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University of California Berkeley 



* (&*&& V 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series 

Charles A. Carpy 

Interviews Conducted by 

Carole Hicke 

in 1993 

Copyright 1994 by The Regents of the University of California 

Charles Carpy, 1985 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research 
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous 
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and 
clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in 
final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Charles A. 
Carpy dated March 5, 1993. The manuscript is thereby made available 
for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library 
of the University of California, Berkeley. No part of the 
manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Charles A. Carpy requires that he be notified of the 
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

Charles A. Carpy, "Viticulture and Enology 
at Freemark Abbey," an oral history 
conducted in 1993 by Carole Hicke, 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, 
Berkeley. 1994. 

Copy no. 

Cataloging information 

CARPY, Charles A. (b. 1927) Winery Owner 

Viticulture and Enology at Freemark Abbey. 1994, vii, 61 pp. 

Carpy family background, a century in Napa Valley; Carpy Ranch, 1961- 
present: grape varieties, first frost protection sprinkler system; Freemark 
Abbey: forming the partnership owner in 1966; restoring the old building, 
equipment, marketing; Rutherford Hill winery; California Wine Commission. 

Interviewed in 1993 by Carole Hicke for the Wine Spectator California 
Winemen Oral History Series. The Regional Oral History Office, The 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 

Charles A. (Chuck) Carpy, the managing partner of Freemark 

Charles Carpy of Abbey Winery in St. Helena and a former board member of WI, 
Freemark Abbey passed away on August 19 at the age of 68 after suffering a heart 
Dies at 68 attack. A third-generation resident of Napa Valley, Carpy ac 
quired and managed vineyards in the Rutherford area in the early 
1960s. In 1966, he saw an opportunity to renew a pre-Prohibition 
winery and formed a partnership that has owned and operated 
Freemark Abbey since 1967. Carpy has twice served as the chair 
man of the Napa Valley Wine Auction, in addition to service as 
president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, chairman of 
the California Wine Commission and a founding member of the 
Wine Service Cooperative. In lieu of flowers, donations may be 
sent to the St. Helena Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 250, Deer 
Park, CA 94576, or to the St. Helena Public Schools Foundation, 
P.O. Box 305, St. Helena, CA 94574. 

Wine Institute NEWS BRIEFS, August 30, 1996 Page 2 

Wine Spectator 
October 15, 1996 

Napa Valley Vintner Chuck Carpy Dies 

Charles (Chuck) Carpy, 
managing partner of Freemark 
Abbey Winery in Napa Valley, 
died of a heart attack Aug. 
19. He was 68. 

Carpy was born in Napa 
Valley. The decorated veter 
an of two wars received a 
master's degree in agricultural 
economics from Montana 
State University and began 
managing Napa properties in 
the 1960s. In 1967, he and a 
group of partners resuscitated 
a "ghost" winery in St. Helena 
that had been closed since 
Prohibition. Over the years, 
Freemark Abbey became best 
known for its Bosch Vine 
yard Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Active in his community, 


Carpy was twice chairman of 
the Napa Valley Wine Auct 
ion. He was also, at various 
times, president of the Napa 
Valley Vintners Association, 
chairman of the California 
Wine Commission and direc 
tor of the Wine Institute, a 
California trade organization. 
Jeff Morgan 

San Shannsto (Djronidf 



Chuck Carpy 

Chuck Carpy, considered . one 
of the founders of the modern Na- 
pa Valley wine industry, died Mon 
day of a heart attack in St. Helena. 
He was 68. 

Mr. Carpy was one of a long line 
of California vintners. His grandfa 
ther came to California from Bor 
deaux, France, at the end of the 
Civil War and eventually founded 
Christian Brothers cellars in St. 

Mr. Carpy founded Freemark 
Abbey Winery in 1967 and co- 
founded the Rutherford Hill Win 
ery in 1976 and the Napa Valley 

Bank in 1982. He also directed the 
Napa Valley Wine Library and was 
president of both the Napa Valley 
Vintners Association and the Wine 

Mr. Carpy is survived by his 
wife, Annie, and five children. 

Associated Press 

TABLE OF CONTENTS --Charles Carpy 


INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Carole Hicke iv 



Grandfather: Charles Carpy 1 

Other Family Members 3 

Youth and Education; Working at Beringer Winery 5 

Military Service, 1945-1947 6 

University Work: Degree in Agricultural Economics 7 

Trip to Alaska, 1960 10 


Starting the First Vineyard, 1961 12 
Installing One of the First Sprinkler Systems for Frost 

Protection 13 

Grape Varieties, Soil, and Climate 16 

Other Aspects of Viticulture 17 


Starting the Winery, 1966 19 

Forming the Partnership 20 

Restoring the Old Building as the Winery 20 

History of Freemark Abbey 21 

Expanding the Winery 23 

First Crush, 1967 24 

Winemakers 25 

Wines 26 

Roles of the Partners 28 

Pros and Cons of Vineyard Ownership versus Buying Grapes 29 

Partnerships: Making Decisions 32 

Marketing 34 

Winery Equipment 38 

Rutherford Hill Winery 40 

Wine Service Co-op 44 



Changes in Napa Valley and the Wine Industry 50 

Future Trends 52 

Community Activities 53 




The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the 
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated by Ruth Teiser in 1969 
through the action and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a 
state marketing order organization which ceased operation in 1975. In 
1983 it was reinstituted as The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral 
History Series with donations from The Wine Spectator Scholarship 
Foundation. The selection of those to be interviewed has been made by a 
committee consisting of the director of The Bancroft Library, University 
of California, Berkeley; John A. De Luca, president of the Wine 
Institute, the statewide winery organization; Maynard A. Amerine, 
Emeritus Professor of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, 
Davis; the current chairman of the board of directors of the Wine 
Institute; Ruth Teiser, series project director; and Marvin R. Shanken, 
trustee of The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. 

Until her death in June 1994, Ruth Teiser was project originator, 
initiator, director, and conductor of the greater part of the oral 
histories. Her book, Winemaking in California, co-authored with 
Catherine Harroun and published in 1982, was the product of more than 
forty years of research, interviewing, and photographing. (Those wine 
history files are now in The Bancroft Library for researcher use.) Ruth 
Teiser 's expertise and knowledge of the wine industry contributed 
significantly to the documenting of its history in this series. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on 
California grape growing and winemaking that has existed only in the 
memories of wine men. In some cases their recollections go back to the 
early years of this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are 
of particular value because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of 
not only the industry itself but also the orderly recording and 
preservation of records of its activities. Little has been written about 
the industry from late in the last century until Repeal. There is a real 
paucity of information on the Prohibition years (1920-1933), although 
some commercial winemaking did continue under supervision of the 
Prohibition Department. The material in this series on that period, as 
well as the discussion of the remarkable development of the wine industry 
in subsequent years will be of aid to historians. Of particular value is 
the fact that frequently several individuals have discussed the same 
subjects and events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from 
his or her own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in 
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State 


Library, and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its 
collection of materials readily available for the purpose. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed 
significantly to recent California history. The office is headed by 
Willa K. Baum and is under the administrative supervision of The Bancroft 

Carole Hicke 
Project Director 

The Wine Spectator California Winemen 
Oral History Series 

July 1994 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Interviews Completed July 1992 

Leon D. Adams, Revitalizing the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Leon D. Adams, California Wine Industry Affairs: Recollections and Opinions. 

Maynard A. Amerine, The University of California and the State's Wine 
Industry. 1971 

Maynard A. Amerine, Wine Bibliographies and Taste Perception Studies. 

Philo Biane, Wine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit 
Industries. Inc. . 1972 

Charles A. Carpy, Viticulture and Enologv at Freemark Abbey. 1994 
John B. Cella, The Cella Family in the California Wine Industry. 1986 

Charles Crawford, Recollections of a Career with the Gallo Winery and the 
Development of the California Wine Industry. 1942-1989. 1990 

Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente , and Andrew G. Frericks, The California 
Wine Industry During the Depression. 1972 

William V. Cruess, A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology. 1967 

Jack and Jamie Peterman Davies , Rebuilding Schramsberg: The Creation of a 
California Champagne House. 1990 

Paul Draper, History and Philosophy of Winemaking at Ridge Vineyards: 1970S - 
1990S. 1994 

William A. Dieppe, Almaden is My Life. 1985 

Making California Port Wine: Ficklin Vineyards from 1948 to 1992. interviews 
with David, Jean, Peter, and Steven Ficklin, 1992 

Alfred Fromm, Marketing California Wine and Brandy . 1984 

Louis Gomberg, Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry. 1935- 
1990. 1990 

Miljenko Grgich, A Croatian-American Winemaker in the Napa Vallev. 1992 
Joseph E. Heitz, Creating a Winery in the Napa Valley. 1986 

Maynard A. Joslyn, A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry. 

Amandus N. Kasimatis, A Career in California Viticulture. 1988 


Morris Katz , Paul Masson Winery Operations and Management. 1944-1988. 1990 

Legh F. Knowles , Jr., Beaulieu Vineyards from Family to Corporate Ownership. 

Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi , California Grape Products and Other 
Wine Enterprises. 1971 

Zelma R. Long, The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its 
Second Century. 1992 

Richard Maher , California Winery Management and Marketing. 1992 

Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini, Wine Making in the Naoa Vallev. 

Louis P. Martini, A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry. 1984 

Eleanor McCrea, Stony Hill Vineyards: The Creation of a Napa Valley Estate 
Winery. 1990 

Otto E. Meyer, California Premium Wines and Brandy. 1973 

Norbert C. Mirassou and Edmund A. Mirassou, The Evolution of a Santa Clara 
Vallev Winery. 1986 

Peter Mondavi , Advances in Technology and Production at Charles Krug Winery. 
1946-1988. 1990 

Robert Mondavi, Creativity in the Wine Industry. 1985 

Michael Moone , Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World. 
Inc. . 1990 

Myron S. Nightingale, Making Wine in California. 1944-1987. 1988 
Harold P. Olmo, Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties. 1976 

Cornelius Ough, Researches of an Enologist. University of California. Davis. 
1950-1990. 1990 

John A. Parducci, Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County. California. 

Antonio Perelli-Minetti, A Life in Wine Making. 1975 

Louis A. Petri, The Petri Family in the Wine Industry. 1971 

Jefferson E. Peyser, The Law and the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Lucius Powers, The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block, Perspectives on California Wines. 1976 

Edmund A. Rossi, Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry. 1971 

Edmund A. Rossi, Jr., Italian Swiss Colony. 1949-1989: Recollections of a 
Third-Generation California Winemaker. 1990 

Arpaxat Setrakian, A. Setrakian. a Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape 
Industry. 1977 

Elie Skofis, California Wine and Brandy Maker. 1988 

Rodney S. Strong, Rodney Strong Vineyards: Creative Winemaking and Winery 
Management in Sonoma County. 1994 

Andre Tchelistcheff , Grapes. Wine, and Ecology. 1983 

Brother Timothy, The Christian Brothers as Wine Makers. 1974 

Louis (Bob) Trinchero, California Zinfandels. a Success Story. 1992 

Charles F. Wagner and Charles J. Wagner, Caymus Vineyards: A Father-Son Team 
Producing Distinctive Wines. 1994 

The Wente Family and the California Wine Industry, interviews with Jean, 
Carolyn, Philip, and Eric Wente, 1992 

Ernest A. Wente, Wine Making in the Livermore Vallev. 1971 
Warren Winiarski, Creating Classic Wines in the Nana Vallev. 1994 
Albert J. Winkler, Viticultural Research at UC Davis (1921-1971). 1973 

John H. Wright, Domaine Chandon: The First French-owned California Sparkling 
Wine Cellar, includes an interview with Edmond Maudiere , 1992 


INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Carole Hicke 

Charles Carpy, managing partner of Freemark Abbey winery, was 
interviewed as part of the Wine Spectator's California Winemen Oral 
History Series to document the history and evolution of Freemark Abbey. 
As Carpy points out, winemaking actually began on the site in 1886. The 
old stone winery, still in use, was built in the early 1900s. The winery 
changed hands several times, ceased operation during Prohibition, and 
began again in 1939 as Freemark Abbey. (The name is a combination of 
three people's names and has no religious significance.) 

Meanwhile, Carpy 's family roots in the Napa Valley go back to the 
late nineteenth century. His grandfather, a wine merchant from Bordeaux, 
France, had started a wine business in San Francisco, then moved to the 
Napa Valley. Carpy started his vineyard in 1961, then formed a 
partnership to buy the Freemark Abbey winery and begin producing wine in 

Wineries owned by partnerships are unusual in the Napa Valley, and 
this one has been unusually successful. Well known for its Chardonnay, 
which does not go through malolactic fermentation and is in what Carpy 
calls more of a "California-style" than a Burgundy style, the winery also 
produces several vineyard- designated Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings that 
have found favor with both critics and consumers. 

As a vineyardist, Carpy talks about viticulture as well as 
winemaking, and he discusses the pros and cons of a winery owning its own 
grapes. He participated in several other ventures also, such as bringing 
in one of the first frost protection sprinkler systems. 

Carpy served as board member, then chair of the California Wine 
Commission in the late 1980s, and he discusses the challenges faced by 
that group and its eventual termination. 

Carpy was interviewed on March 4 and 5, 1993, in his office at the 
winery. He graciously toured me through the winery, and he and his 
daughter, Catherine, talked as a collaborative team during lunchttme at a 
nearby restaurant. Carpy reviewed the transcript and returned it 
promptly, answering questions but making few changes. 

This series is part of the ongoing documenting of California history 
by the Regional Oral History Office, which is under the direction of 
Willa Baum, Division Head, and under the administrative direction of The 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 

Carole Hicke 
Senior Editor 

January 1994 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 

Your full 

(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 
Cl4AKL.5 A' 

Date of birth 


Father's full name /) Ufa E^T 

Occupation )9/frJfl?l CtAUl &<&&*) Birthplace c fa/J 

Mother's full nan.e A t> U tS& 


SP ou Se 


(2 A &.P y 



Your children M/)filAUUE 

B OBQL- , 

Where did you grow up? 
Present community 




Areas of expertise 

n &7(L. 

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Other interests or activities 


Organizations in which you are active 


[Interview 1: March 4, 1993 

Grandfather: Charles Carpv 

Hicke: I'd like to start this morning by asking when and where you were born. 
Carpy: I was born in St. Helena, California, on October 20, 1927. 

Hicke: I'm going to ask you about your childhood, but I think first I'd like 
to ask you about your grandparents . 

Carpy: My grandfather was named Charles Carpy. He was born in France in 1850 
and came to Napa, California in 1864. 

Hicke : He was born in the Bordeaux area? 

Carpy: Yes, between there and the Pyranees someplace. [laughter] He came 

out of France through Bordeaux, but I don't know whether he was really 
born in that neighborhood or not. Because we had a house burn down, 
we have very little old information about anybody, but I believe his 
father's name was Pierre Carpy. His father, my great-grandfather, as 
I understand it, was in the drayage business in Napa and was killed in 
a horse accident soon after they came here. When I say soon, I mean 
in maybe three or four years . My grandfather would have been fourteen 
when he came, and I think it was probably before he was eighteen or 
twenty that his father died. 

After the death of his father, my grandfather went to the Bay 
Area and went to work for a wine merchant by the name of [Charles] 
Anduran. This gentleman had a winery in Napa called Uncle Sam Vinery 
as part of the wine merchant business. During the course of events, 
my grandfather soon bought out Anduran, who was an older man ready to 

1 This symbol (//#) marks the beginning or end of a tape or segment of 
tape. A guide to the tapes is located on the page following the transcript. 


retire. I don't know what the arrangements were, but my grandfather 
was able to buy him out and ran his business, known as C. Carpy & Co. 
in San Francisco on Sacramento Street. He operated this business up 
into about 1894 or '95, because the last acquisition he made was to 
buy Greystone Cellars from [William] Bourn. 

Soon after, he joined the California Vine Association, which was 
just- -I guess Bourn had gotten it started. My grandfather sold out 
his interest in Greystone to California Wine Association by some means 
or another. I don't know how, whether he donated it and took shares 
or whether there was a whole lot of cash involved. So he effectively 
was out of the wine business by 1895 or '96. During the time that he 
had this wine merchant business, he acquired a winery in San Jose 
[Pacific Winery]. I have no idea if it had a name. So he operated 
two wineries- -the Uncle Sam Winery in Napa and the one in San Jose. 

Hicke: Do you think he actually had hands-on management of these wineries? 

Carpy: He wasn't the cellarmaster , so to speak, because he probably stayed in 
San Francisco, but he did visit them, I'm sure, and probably was 
involved in the decisions about making the winewhat to make, how 
much to make, and the blends. Most of the wines in those days were 
bulk wines. There weren't a lot of labeling wineries; most of them 
shipped to a wine merchant, who then bottled it and sold it or sold it 
in barrels, for that matter. 

Hicke: Do you know where he got his interest in or knowledge of wine? 

Carpy: No. I guess the only assumption you can make is that maybe he was 
raised in the great vineyards area of Bordeaux, but I really don't 

When he sold Greystone, he divided the property and retained the 
south half --well, not half, but the south portion, which has remained 
in the family, and that's our home. 

Hicke: That's what's called Albert's Villa? 

Carpy: Yes, Albert's Villa. He gave it that name, I guess, because that's my 
dad's name. He maintained a residence in San Francisco until after 
the earthquake, I'm sure. The earthquake was in '06, so he would have 
been fifty- six; he wasn't an old man. Eventually he moved to St. 
Helena and pretty much stayed up there for the balance of his life. 

That's what I really know about my grandfather. I don't know a 
whole lot else. He has a written essay in The Bancroft Library that 
he wrote back about 1890. It's two or three pages of comments. 


Winemaking In California 

III. The California Wine Association 



Ernest Peninou & Sidney Greenleaf 



The Porpoise Bookshop 




Young Bacchus hails across the sea, 
"Come all the world, come drink with me. 
There's Wine Fruit at the masthead trim, 
And puncheons fill the hold within. 
We're laden deep with joyous freight ; 
'Tis vintage of the Golden State." 
The Bear he leans on, standing near, 
Is emblem grim of the Pioneer. 
The barge glides out the Golden Gate. 
If winds refuse to lend their aid, 
The sturdy oarsman plies the blade 
To spread abroad through every nation 
This Trade Mark of the Association. 

Oddly enough, the idea of this significant merger originated not 
with a wine man but with one Percy Morgan, an Englishman and a 
former representative in Colorado of a British mining syndicate, who 
had come to San Francisco only four years earlier, planning with a 
fellow Englishman, William Hanson, to establish an accounting busi 
ness. Both arrived almost penniless, and it was said later that Hanson, 
who had ten dollars in his pockets, put up at a humble hotel on Third 
Street, whereas Morgan, who had but two dollars, characteristically 
registered at the Palace. However, they opened an office and soon se 
cured some excellent clients, among them S. Lachman & Company 
and the young but flourishing Sunset Telephone Company. 


Of the firms in the C.W.A., as the Association soon came to be called, 
the largest shareholder, with about thirty-eight per cent of the stock, 
was C. Carpy & Company. Its owner was Charles Carpy, who had come 
from Bordeaux to San Francisco in the late 1 86o's quite without finan 
cial resources but with youth, good looks, a fine physique and first-rate 
native ability. 


In 1872 he was working as an expressman while attending St. 
Mary's College, then located at what is now Mission Street and St. 
Mary's Avenue. For the next three years he was employed by Ami 
Vignier, an importer and wholesale dealer in wines and liquors. In 
1876 he became a business associate of a fellow countryman, Charles 
Anduran, who had come to San Francisco in the sixties, had worked for 
Henri Racouillat, a wine and liquor dealer at 517 Sacramento Street, 
and had recently bought him out. Two years later Anduran and Carpy 
acquired in Napa City an interest in the Uncle Sam Cellars, a large 
winery and distillery established by William W. Thompson, a pioneer 
merchant of Napa City, and his Belgian partner, Peter Van Bever. 
Thompson soon sold his share and as Van Bever and Anduran the firm 
prospered. Even before Van Bever's retirement in 1881 they had 
established a second winery in Napa City and were developing a profit- 
able trade with New Orleans and the East Coast cities, for from their 
wineries on the banks of the Napa River it was cheap and convenient 
to load cargoes on barges for transshipment from Port Costa or San 

By 1887 Carpy had acquired full control of the firm and changed 
the name to C. Carpy & Company. Four years later he purchased the 
million-and-a-half-gallon Pacific Winery at San Jose, and just before 
the California Wine Association was established he had bought also the 
beautiful and admirably built Greystone Cellars at St. Helena, with 
a storage capacity of three and a half million gallons. These large 
holdings, along with his business acumen, his ability to make friends, 
and his keen wine palate, all contributed to the Association's choice of 
him as its first president. 

Regarding Carpy's acquisition of Greystone, the story is told that 
when his bid and that of his great business rival, Jacob Jacobi of the 
wine house of Lachman and Jacobi, were opened, it was found that 
both were identical. Carpy suggested settling the deadlock by flipping 'j 

a coin ; Jacobi rather reluctantly agreed and won. They returned from j 

St. Helena to San Francisco by the same train and when, upon their 


arrival at the Ferry Building, Carpy announced that he was the new 
owner of Greystone, two rumors became current: Carpy and "Old 
Jake" had engaged in a crap game and Carpy had won ; Jacobi had been 
persuaded by the eloquence of the famous attorney, Delphine Delmas, 
a close friend of Carpy's and one of the group on the train, to give up 
Greystone. Jacobi's own explanation and the most plausible was that 
he had merely asked Carpy if he still wanted Greystone and learning 
that he did had said, "Take it." After all, Lachman and Jacobi were 
primarily wine merchants, not vineyardists or wine producers. 

In 1 896, having sold the greater part of his stock in the Association, 
Carpy built Alberta Villa, a fine residence adjoining Greystone, and 
subsequently spent a great part of his time there. He was one of the 
founders and for many years president of the French-American Bank 
in San Francisco. In 1 9 1 5 he served with Henry Lachman and Kanoye 
Nagasawa, a Japanese and owner of Fountain Grove Vineyards at 
Santa Rosa, as a California representative on the international wine- 
judging panel at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. It is said 
that Carpy and Lachman readily agreed that they were the two finest 
tasters in the state but neither would concede that the other had the 
more discriminating palate. 


Among the many emigrants from Germany to California during the 
Gold Rush was Samuel Lachman, who, after a few years of prospect 
ing in El Dorado County, betook himself in r 854 to the newly opened 
mines in Trinity County and in Weaverville opened a general store. 
Ten years later, with some capital, a wife, and two sons, Albert and 
Henry, he moved to San Francisco, where, in a partnership with 
Adolph Eberhardt, a former winemaker for Benjamin D. Wilson of 
San Gabriel, he opened a wine store at the southeast corner of First 
and Market streets. This business also throve. 

In 1871, having decided on further expansion, the partners bought 

Other Family Membara 

Hicke : Did you know your grandmother? 

Carpy: No, she died right around the earthquake time, about 1905 or '06. Her 
name was Mathilde. Her father was a French doctor (Dr. Francis 
Canton] at the mines in Sonora, who died around 1864 up there. My 
father's mother was one of three sisters, each having a different 
father. Laura Echeverria nee Sarlandi had three daughters by 
different fathers. Jan Echeverria fathered Angele Echeverria, who 
married O'Reilly, had four daughters. Francis Canton fathered 
Mathilde Canton, who married Charles Carpy, had one son, Albert. 
Nicholas Cousin fathered Paula Cousin, who married William Torpey and 
has no children. 

One of the sisters was somehow kind of a shirttail relation of 
the Breen family that came over in the Dormer party and grew up in 
that part of the country. My father's mother I don't know a whole lot 
about. She was probably up in the mine country for a while, but she 
probably wasn't too old when her father died. The next husband lived 
in San Francisco. His name was Cousin [using French pronunciation], 
but she never took that name. There is another sister named Paula 

Hicke: Did they retain the French pronunciation of all the last names? 

Carpy: Yes. But then she married into an Irish family named Torpey, so she 
didn't have to worry about it anymore. 

Hicke: How about your maternal grandparents? 

Carpy: My mother was born in Seattle in 1898. Her father came from the 

Quebec area of Canada before 1900. It must have been around 1890. 
His name was Dumas Fortin. He was one of a number of brothers who 
came out from Quebec . He particularly ended up in the ship chandlery 
business up there and in ironworking and things like that. My mother 
had one sister and three brothers, one of whom is still alive. They 
all pretty much stayed in the Seattle area. One brother came down 
into California. None of them were involved in the wine business. 

My mother and dad got married around 1922. 
Hicke: We skipped your father. 

Carpy: My father was born in 1886. His name was Albert C. Carpy. He was 

Albert Charles, and I'm Charles Albert. He was an only child. He was 
in the navy in World War I and worked for the telephone company in San 
Francisco. He was born in San Francisco. They lived originally on 
California Street, but I don't know what the cross streets were. He 
went to Mission High School and was a classmate of [Robert Gordon] 


Sproul , a president of the University of California. My dad went to 
Stanford for a year or two, but he didn't complete college. He went 
in the navy, and when he got out he got married. 

He had some family business investments that he took care of, but 
he got a pretty serious illness, and they had to remove a kidney. He 
came to St. Helena to convalesce- -this was after he was marriedand 
lived up here. My sister was born in 1924, so they came up about 1926 
on a permanent basis and lived in the home. They probably stayed up a 
lot of the summer. In those days people would come up to the valley 
and stay for two or three months at a time. 

This is all before I was born, so I don't really know, and I have 
no basic history about what went on before. The house we had when I 
was born burned down when I was about two, and everything went up in 
smoke . 

Hicke: Albert's Villa burned down? 

Carpy: Yes. It was a house that was on the property when my grandfather 
bought it from Bourn, and the on-site manager of Greystone lived 
there. We took it over, and it became our home. When it burned down 
my dad rebuilt a Spanish- style home. Before that it was more a 
Victorian type. 

Hicke: It's fascinating to me to find somebody who has such a long California 

Carpy: My sister was born in '24. She went on and became a medical doctor. 
She graduated about 1950. Her name was Mathilde, the same as her 
grandmother. She practiced in San Francisco at St. Lukes. She was 
married down there and had five children. She moved back to the Napa 
Valley, to St. Helena, right around 1965 and joined with a group of 
doctors and practiced in St. Helena. She died about two years ago of 
cancer. She kind of worked up until about two months of her death. 

Hicke: Just as an aside, it was pretty unusual for a woman to become a 

Carpy: Yes. She went to Creighton Medical School and was one of two females 
in her class . She was kind of unusual in that she knew she wanted to 
be a doctor when she was about three years old. She always played the 
game of being a doctor. 

Hicke: Did your father's illness perhaps inspire that? 

Carpy: I don't know; it might have. Maybe hearing about the ancestor who was 
a doctor in the Sonora area inspired her a little bit, but she just 
seemed determined at a very early age. She methodically went through 
high school and college, preparing herself to go on to medical school. 

Youth and Education: Working at Beringer Winery 

Hicke: Let's talk a little bit about you. 

Carpy: As I said, I was born in 1927. 1 went to elementary school at what 
was at that time the Ursaline Academy in St. Helena. 1 graduated in 
1941 from the eighth grade, so I started in the fall of '32, when I 
was five or six years old. From there I went to St. Helena High 
School for four years and graduated from there in 1945. 

Hicke: What kinds of things did you like to do when you were growing up? 

Carpy: I enjoyed sports at St. Helena High School. I was pretty much an 
outdoorsy kind of person. I liked to go hunting and fishing. I 
didn't have any serious hobbies like collecting things; I never was 
much of a collector. During high school, for a couple of summers, 1 
worked at Beringer Brothers, I guess in the summers of '43 and '44, on 
the bottling line. That was during the war, and labor was not easy to 
come by. 

Hicke: Do you recall what they paid you? 

Carpy: I started at thirty- five cents an hour and graduated to fifty cents 

after a couple of months. When I started at thirty- five cents, there 
were full-time employees working at that rate. That gave me a little 
exposure to the wine business. The man who managed Beringer Brothers 
at that time was Fred Abruzzini. I knew his sons, who were my 
contemporaries, and that's kind of how 1 got to work over there. Of 
course, it was right next door, and I could just walk over and go to 
work. I had known the Beringer family for years, although they were 
not fully active in the day-to-day management of the winery. Fred 
Abruzzini was the general manager. 

Hicke: What was the bottling line like at that time? 

Carpy: It was a conveyor belt about twenty feet long. In those days they 

bottled the wine separately from the labeling. They would bottle it 
and bin it and store it without labels. Then when it was ready to 
ship, they would take out whatever they needed to ship and label it. 
The first machine was sort of a semi-automatic labeler. A person 
would put the bottle in and trip a switch, and it would put one label 
on. Then you would put the bottle on the conveyor belt, where it 
would be rubbed down and cleaned up, and then a capsule was put on and 
tightened up. In those days we tissue -wrapped almost everything, so 
we would tissue -wrap the bottle and put it in a box. We might do 
sixty cases a day, not because we worked all day at it but because 
that's what the order was. In those days the wine industry was not 
very prosperous, and they labeled stuff as they had an order to fill, 
not just a whole lot of it like we do now. 

Chuck Carpy, age 3, circa 1930 

It was a lot of hand work compared to anything you see nowadays. 
The filler was a gravity feed thing of some sort. I can't fully 
recall what it did, but I know it had a carousel, and they'd put the 
bottles on, they would fill, and somebody would take them off and cork 
them. Then they'd be taken to these bins where they were stacked for 
at least six months to a year- -for the reds, anyway. 

I enjoyed that experience. It wasn't all working in the bottling 
line. We hauled pumice for about a month one summer from a big pile 
of pumice that was down at the Napa Valley Cooperative Winery, which 
is called Bergfield now. We spread it on the Beringer vineyards. 
There were three of us, and that's all we did all day for about a 
month. I mean, it was a hill of pumice; it was big. We shoveled 
every bit of that onto the truck, and we shoveled every bit of it off 
of the truck and onto the vineyards. So we didn't always operate in 
the cellar. 

Hicke: That was primarily for fertilizer for the yeast cultures? 

Carpy: Yes, and it's good for the soil, too. When it's disked in it makes 

the tilthe good and the water penetration good, so it worked out quite 


Military Service. 1945-1947 

Carpy: When I graduated from high school, I went to [University of California 
at] Berkeley for one summer session. They were then operating the 
university year round. There were three semesters, and I took the 
summer semester. Then I went into the service in late '45. I went to 
Camp Roberts for basic training, and then I went to OCS [Officer 
Candidate School] in Ft. Benning, Georgia. I graduated from there 
about July of '46 and then went overseas to Italy, and I joined the 
88th Division, which was in occupation at the time. I came home in 

Hicke: Where in Italy were you? 

Carpy: I landed at Livorno and was stationed north of Trieste. A little town 
called Tricesimo is where we were billeted. There was not much in the 
way of vineyards there . There were some people involved in the 
silkworm business at the time I was there. They would cut the 
mulberry shoots that had the leaves on them and lay them on these big 
racks. Then they would inoculate them with caterpillars which ate 
until they spun a cocoon. I don't think there was any processing of 
silk in the town; I think it was probably shipped someplace for 
further unwinding of the cocoon and so forth, but they did grow them 
there . 

Hicke: That's interesting. I didn't know silkworms were grown there. 
Carpy: I wonder whether they still have an industry these days. 

University Vork: Degree in Agricultural Economic! 

Carpy: When I came back I went back to school, but this time I went to 

[University of California at] Davis. When I first went back, there 
was a two-year, non-degree course, so I went back in a non-degree 
fashion. I was curious as to whether I was going to enjoy all this 

Hicke: Were you interested in enology? 

Carpy: No, more in viticulture at that time. I did take things like botany, 
but I took some viticulture courses, mostly the hands-on type that 
taught you how to prune and so forth. 

When I went to Davis there were 1,300 students, and when I left 
there were 1,900. Now there are 17,000. I was in classes with five, 
six, or eight people. A class of twenty would have been large except 
for a very few things . 

I guess I got my enthusiasm up for more education, so I went back 
in the fall of '53 and started in a degree program. I chose 
agricultural economics as my major for two reasons. 1 was interested 
in the economic management side of things. At that time, and 1 think 
it may still be true, that major allowed you to take a lot of 
production courses; so 1 took courses in soils, plant pests, 
viticulture. The only thing I didn't do was go on in things that 
required much chemistry. One of the reasons I didn't go into enology 
was because I would have had to take about two years ' worth of 
chemistry to get into the program, and I wanted to move a little 

Hicke : Can you recall something about the things that were talked about? Did 
they talk about phylloxera or other plant diseases? 

Carpy: Phylloxera was not a very serious subject because it wasn't much of a 

Hicke: They thought they had solved it. 

Carpy: Yes. There were things like Pierce 's disease and powdery mildew, and 
they would talk about the bugs that carried them. I can't tell you 
now; it's been too long ago to remember everything that was taught. 

Hicke: There weren't any major threats? 

Carpy: No. I think the problems were probably greater in the Central Valley, 
where mildew was a much greater problem. They also had downy mildew 
on occasion and a lot of host materials, like alfalfa is host of a bug 
that carries Pierce 's disease, as I recall. 1 remember we spent some 
sessions out pruning vines in one of the courses, and I took some 
pomology courses. I really enjoyed what I took, because I learned a 
lot at the time. 

Hicke: Did they talk about different soils? 

Carpy: Yes, I had soil courses. 

Hicke: It was mostly a discussion of California soils? 

Carpy: I started out with the world classification of soils. 


Carpy: Like the soils of north Russia with all of the coniferous forests, and 
Canada. That's one kind of broad grouping of soils that have all of 
the coniferous forests. Then there's the open grassland country like 
southern Russia or central United States. Then it got more specific 
to California and what was local. Ve had field trips to try to 
identify the field of soils, whether it was sandy loam or clay, to try 
to get a feel for what soil scientists were trying to do. 

I really did enjoy the ag. econ. There were five or six 
instructors there at the time. A wonderful man by the name of 
Voorhees , who was probably about sixty years old when I first went 
there, had been the dean of students (or dean of boys) at Berkeley for 
a number of years and had then moved up to the Davis campus and gotten 
involved in the ag. econ. program, which had been on the Berkeley 
campus originally. It was all down there at Giannini Hall. 

There was a fellow by the name of Chet McCorkle , who ended up as 
the chancellor of Davis and the vice-president of the entire 
University system for a number of years, with whom I still stay in 
contact. A guy by the name of Herb Snyder, whose main interest was 
water economics; Trimble Hedges I worked for a couple of summers, just 
because I was there when the cotton allotment started. He was 
involved in a study as to how the cotton allotments were going to 
affect the agriculture of the San Joaquin Valley. So one summer I 
went down and did a lot of surveys, filling out questionnaires on: 
"What would you do if you didn't get the cotton allotment?" and that 
type of thing. That was an interesting time for me. 

There was Jerry Foytik, who taught the statistics courses. There 
was a marketing guy, an older man, who was born in South Africa. His 
name escapes me. 

I moved along and graduated with my bachelors degree in 1956 , in 
midyear. It took 128 units to graduate, and 1 had 164 when I 
graduated. It was just because certain requirements took more time, 
so I ended up taking a lot of courses . 

Hicke : How about fellow students? 
contact with? 

Are there any that you are still in 



Hicke : 
Carpy : 

Hicke : 

Carpy : 

I have no idea. I think back, and I can't even remember their names. 
There were only about six of us in my class. I remember one guy had 
been a cattle rancher in Arizona. He had sold out and come up here, 
so he was a little bit older, like I was, because I was out of the 
service . 

I'm missing something here, 

No, we haven't discussed that. 

Did I tell you I went back in the 

Let me finish with Davis. Basically, I graduated from Davis, and then 
I went on to more schooling, which I will pick up again. But after I 
got out of the service in '47, I went back to Berkeley and stayed 
there until 1950. I was in business administration, which I didn't 
enjoy too much, and I didn't enjoy Berkeley that much, either. Then I 
was called back in the service in 1950 and ended up going over to 
Korea in the Seventh Division. I was wounded there and got the Combat 
Infantry Badge, the Distinguished Service Cross, a couple of Bronze 
Stars, and a Purple Heart. So I had enough of the that experience. 

I got out of the service in '52 and really didn't do anything 
until I went back to Davis in the spring of '53. 

It sounds like you had some recuperative time. 

Well, it really wasn't. I wasn't that badly wounded, but I just 
didn't know what I wanted to do. I was kind of aimless at the time. 

So after graduation at Davis I went to Montana State [College] 
for essentially two years and got my master's degree. 

How did you pick on Montana State? 

Professor Chet McCorkle knew one of the staff members at Montana State 
College in Bozeman, whose name was Baker, and he thought I would enjoy 
not only going there, but he thought Baker was a very able economist 
and a good teacher and I would learn something. 

It's Montana State College, not university? 

Yes. Now it's all university, with campuses all over, but at that 
time the university was at Missoula and the college was at Bozeman. I 


enjoyed my time up there. I went up in the spring of '56, stayed up 
there through the summer and worked with the U.S.D.A. [United States 
Department of Agriculture] . Again, I was going out and taking a bunch 
of interviews. 1 had a project for a master's thesis about the 
conversion of wheat land back to cattle raising, because there was too 
much wheat at that time. You know, "What would it take?" Well, it 
took a price for meat that nobody could afford to eat to make the same 
kind of a profit that a person made in wheat. 

Hicke: You were quite a bit ahead of your time, because now it's very well 
known that wheat is a much more efficient way than cattle to feed 

Carpy: But at that time we were suffering all the overproductions of grains, 
and the government was buying tons of stock, not knowing what to do 
with it. That's about the time they started paying people to keep 
things out of production, to keep it fallow. 

I enjoyed that and got my master's in June of '57. 
Hicke: How did you like Montana? 

Carpy: I loved it. The people were so wonderful up there. I enjoyed the 
outdoors. I went fishing an awful lot and did a little hunting. I 
had some good friends, some local and some in college. 1 really had a 
good time. 

Then I went back to Berkeley and did some more graduate work 
through 1959. I was working on a Ph.D., but I ran out of gas about 
the middle of '59 and said the hell with it. I really had done all 
the course work, but I was into the thesis writing. 

Hicke: In what field? 

Carpy: Still in ag. econ. Giannini Hall was the ag. econ. building at 

Berkeley. I met some wonderful people down there that I enjoyed. 1 
think most of them are dead now. There was a guy by the name of 
Bowles, who was more or less a statistician. The head of the 
department at that time (I don't remember his name) died of cancer 
shortly after I left. There was a guy there who did a lot of work 
with the fresh fruit people and canning fruit. That was Sydney Hoo's 
fresh fruit. He was an enjoyable guy. 

Trip to Alaska. 1960 

Carpy: But I just didn't enjoy being in Berkeley that much, and I left 

college in 1959 and came back to the Napa Valley. 1 decided to go to 
Alaska with a buddy of mine, just to see what the world was like up 


there. We went up in the spring of '60, and we just knocked around. 
We worked in a fish cannery for a while, we helped build a dock in 
Valdez that was wiped out by that tidal wave that hit a couple of 
years after I left. We did some hunting and fishing and traveled 
around the state quite a bit. We had an old camper on the back of a 
pickup, and we had a great time. We'd catch crabs and fish, and we 
semi ate off the land, but we'd buy some staples. 



Starting the First Vineyard. 1961 

Carpy: That summer was when my dad died, so I left Alaska and flew back. 

This would be about July of 1960. When I got back I had to pick up a 
few things. I was not married, and my dad had a widow, so we had to 
clean up the estate. My sister, I think, was still down in San 
Francisco. We had some property that we sold, and we ended up buying 
a piece of property in the Rutherford area, what we called the old 
Lutley place. Winifred Lutley was a sister in a larger family. She 
was a spinster, so she lived in the family house until we purchased 
the property. She cut the house out of the sale, so she lived there 
until she died, quite an old lady. 

Hicke : What was on the property? 

Carpy: It was just mostly open land- -pasture- -and it had been used for 

growing tomatoes, barley, oats, and things like that. The first thing 
we had to do was clear the land. There were some old, tree -lined 
sloughs through it, so we spent about a year cleaning out the land and 
the stumps, redoing a levee that was in pretty bad disrepair, cleaning 
out the river. During that time we would grow oats in the winter and 
get back to work on the land after the oats had come off in May, and 
then we could work for the summer. There was lots of Bermuda grass, 
and there was Johnson grass. It was really just a matter of cleaning 
up the place . 

Hicke: You bought it specifically to plant a vineyard? 

Carpy: Yes, we knew that's what we wanted to do. 

Hicke: You did all of that work yourself, or did you have some help? 

Carpy: I had some Mexican ranch workers at seventy- five cents an hour when we 
first started this thing; now it's more like eight dollars an hour. 


Carpy : 

We cut up a lot of firewood and sold sone. It was Just the general 
kinds of things you do in cleaning up a piece of property. 

We planted the first vineyard in 1964. 
[Sauvignon] and Pinot noir. 

Tell me how you decided on those. 

We planted Cabernet 

These varieties were just starting to come into more popularity. 
Robert Mondavi had started his winery in 1966, and I could see what he 
was crushing and emphasizing. In fact, we sold the very first 
harvest, which didn't amount to anything, to him, and the few grapes 
that we picked in '66. In '65 we planted Chardonnay and Riesling. So 
that first plot of vineyard was fifty-nine acres. 

Installing One of the First Sprinkler Systems for Frost Protection 

Carpy: We put in a solid- set sprinkler system for frost protection, which was 
one of the earliest in the valley, especially for that size acreage; 
it was probably the first that was put it. 

Hicke: How did you decide to do that? 

Carpy: Laurie Wood, my partner and neighboring rancher, had installed a 
solid-set experimental plot a couple of years before, using a 
different --instead of underground pipes, it was aluminum pipes running 
on top of the grapestakes . But that didn't prove to be the most 
efficient way. Plastic pipe was just starting to come out and getting 
popular and relatively cheap. We had some guy who represented a line 
of plastic pipe come over and design the layout and the whole thing, 
including the main lines, valves, and all that. 

Hicke: Did you seek him out, or did he find you? 

Carpy: I can't remember. There was a fellow from Rainbird Sprinkler who was 
going around giving lecture -demonstrations, trying to sell the concept 
of water for frost protection. 

Hicke: So part of this was an improvement in the technology? 

Carpy: Oh, yes, because water will protect down to 25 degrees for sure. Wind 
machines and orchard heaters probably can't go much below 28 degrees 
unless it's for a very short time. If it's an hour or two at 28 
degrees, it is probably a losing battle. 

Hicke: The fact that the plastic pipes were Just coming in was important? 

Carpy: You could put it all underground, so it wasn't in the way, in a sense, 
for the cultivation and the management of the vineyard. It was also 
relatively cheap compared to trying to do it with any other kind of 
pipe. Laurie and I got involved in this thing, and young Roy Raymond, 
who was working for Beringer, and the three of us got into a little 
joint venture of installing these things on various properties, mainly 
to learn how to do it on our own. So we had some experience of 
troubles and things to avoid. 

Hicke: A little business on the side? Where all did you install them? 

Carpy: We did one for a guy named Joe Cone, and we did one for a guy by the 
name of Rosenthal or something like that. Then we kind of got 
involved in our own, because Laurie had quite a bit of vineyard to 
take care of, and Beringer had over a hundred acres that they put in 
down in Yountville. They put it all into water protection. For the 
next few years we were basically just concerned with our own stuff, 
and after we got our own in, we got uninterested in doing much more. 

As far as Napa Valley is concerned, we were really the early 
birds in that particular technology. 

Hicke: Did you then have people coming around to ask how it worked? 

Carpy: Yes, people would come out and look at it. Since Laurie managed quite 
a few vineyards, he installed it on some that he managed, just because 
of his suggestion to the owners. It has now become quite common on 
the valley floor. Now people build reservoirs. It really takes quite 
bit of water; it takes about fifty to fifty- five gallons of water a 
minute to protect an acre of vineyard, so you have to have a big 
backlog of water ready to go. If you have to go for six hours on 
fifty acres, it's a lot of water. 

Hicke: How often do you have to use it? 

Carpy: You just have to do it whenever it gets cold. First of all, we have a 
frost -warning service in the valley. A guy from the weather service 
comes up and stays here for almost two months. He arrives March 15 
and leaves on May 15. He gives predictions on whether the 
temperatures are likely to go below 32 degrees. If the prediction is 
for a frost, you'd probably start the water when it's about 34 to 35 
degrees. It Just sprinkles water out on the vines, but the concept of 
water protection for frost is that the process of freezing water 
requires a certain amount of heat so that the water gives up these 
heat calories in the process of freezing and keeps the temperature of 
the vine running at about 32 degrees, which doesn't damage the vines. 
It actually coats the vine with ice. So long as you keep applying 
more water that keeps supplying more calories of heat, you can 
maintain that temperature at 32 degrees. You have to do that until 
the sun is up and the temperature is up to about 35 degrees and all 
the ice has melted. If you turn it off in the middle of the night, 


then the ice melting sucks all the heat out of the vine and really 
does a great deal of damage . 

Hicke : Did people from Davis come around to see it? 

Carpy: I don't recall. 1 suppose they did, certainly the extension 

specialist who was involved in vineyards. It worked out very well. 

Hicke: Was it risky when you installed it? 

Carpy: It had been proven to work in other crops. I can't remember whether 
it was down in the orange groves in southern California or maybe some 
other places. It was basically kind of a tree-crop concept, and maybe 
shrubs and perennials and flowers. Anyway, they had made it work down 
there, and that convinced us. The evidence presented by the Rainbird 
people was pretty convincing that it worked. The thing that we didn't 
know was just how to lay these sprinklers out --innovating: what 
should be the spacing and things like that. 

Hicke: Right, because they hadn't been used on vines before. 

Carpy: The sprinkler people really had mostly designed sprinklers that had a 
larger circumference of water application, so that it took too long 
for it to get all the way around. In other words, the sprinkler had 
to come around every so often or the vine could receive damage. All 
these things were kind of new to the vineyard business. They finally 
actually designed a sprinkler primarily for frost protection. Of 
course, it would work for irrigation, too, but it was a very low rate 
of water application per sprinkler. Primarily they were spaced about 
forty-eight feet in one direction and thirty- two in another. It 
worked out well. 

Hicke: Is it a high maintenance requirement? 

Carpy: No. The only thing you have to do is clean them, because the vines 
grow in and around the sprinkler during the summertime, and you get 
little tendrils in there so that the little flapper thing that goes 
around gets tied up sometimes. We're just now starting frost- 
protection time now, so we'll be turning on all the sprinklers and 
checking for broken pipes, making sure that everything is turning, and 
that nothing is plugged up. The nozzles are removable, so you can 
flush out the lines and do these things. There is not a lot of 
mechanical maintenance but just getting it ready to run again. 

I think it's time for lunch, 
afterwards. [tape off] 

Let's shut down and pick this up 


Grace Varieties Soil and Climate 

Hicke: We were talking about your first vineyard. Did it have a name? 

Carpy: We just called it the Carpy-Conolly vineyard; my sister's married name 
was Conolly. 

Hicke: We had started to talk about why you planted the grapes you did. Did 
you get advice from people at Davis or from other winemakers around 
the area? 

Carpy: I'm sure I discussed it with my partner, Laurie, and others, during 
the course of time that we were developing the vineyard- -as I said, 
Laurie Wood is a neighboring rancher. We had decided, after we got 
into the grape growing business, that we were really interested in 
possibly getting involved in a winery relationship with somebody. We 
had started to talk to people and look at opportunities, a couple of 
which never amounted to anything. We planted these grapes with the 
idea that they would become part of a winery operation. I can't tell 
you why each one of those varieties were picked. They were sort of 
the four noble grapes of the world at that time- -Riesling of Germany, 
Chardonnay of Burgundy, the Pinot noir of Burgundy, and Cabernet [of 
Bordeaux] . 

Hicke: What kind of investigation did you do into climate and soil here? 

Carpy: The investigation mostly was just growing up around the place and 

knowing what was there and knowing pretty much that the center of the 
valley, which is the Rutherford area, was capable of growing almost 
any variety. It's plenty warm enough to mature Cabernets. At the 
time we planted Chardonnay, Chardonnay was not a very popular grape. 
It was before the University cleaned up the wood, selected good 
clones, and got rid of most of the diseases in the vines. Chardonnay 
was a terrible producer, and hardly anybody would grow it as a grower. 
The few people who grew it were mainly the wineries that wanted it 
themselves. The yields were on the average very low, and it was a 
very diseased vine. 

At the time we were planting, better wood was available, 
certainly you could get certified rootstock by that time, and you 
could make selections of the wood from vineyards that had been planted 
to some of the better selections that the University had started to 
identify. There was a fair demand for Chardonnay at the time I 
planted that. 


Other Aspects of Viticulture^/ 

Hicke: You were Just talking about the rootstock. 

Carpy: That was when A x R #1, the rootstock that's giving us all the trouble 
now, was being recommended highly by the University. I planted 
everything we had on A x R #1. It was a very good rootstock, you 
know. It produced good grapes and was easy to work with. Fortunately 
we didn't replace very many vineyards prior to this new phylloxera 
problem, so some of our vineyards now are sort of ready to be 
replanted anyway. 

Hicke: They're about twenty -five years old? 

Carpy: Yes. It's not like one that you just planted eight years ago, and all 
of a sudden you have to replant the whole damned thing. That's 
expensive and pretty tough to do. 

That brings us up to the era of starting Freemark Abbey. 

Hicke: Let me interrupt with a couple more questions. How about trellising, 
spacing, and some of those types of decisions? 

Carpy: Back in the days when we first planted the vineyards, the standard 

spacing was pretty much eight by twelve. That was what the University 
recommended, and that's the common size that was planted. 

Hicke: And that's how you did it? 

Carpy: That's how we did it, and now we're doing different spacings. 

Hicke: What are you doing now? 

Carpy: Now we're doing mostly 9' 6" x 6' 8". The sprinkler rows in 8' x 12' 
vineyards are 48' apart and 32' within the row. So 8' x 12' would be 
three rows in the middle of two sprinkler lines. What we've done is 
add a fourth vine row between the sprinkler rows spaced 48' apart, and 
within the row we added a fourth vine between the sprinklers spaced 
every 32'. We've gone from basically 450 vines to the acre to up to a 
little bit over 600. It's a one-third increase in vines. 

We went through the use of tee -top trellis type of things, and 
now we're doing vertical cordon, where we create a cordon quite a bit 
lower to the ground. We used to put the head of the vine at about 
32", and we did mostly cane pruning when we started. Now we're down 
to about 24", so the fruiting wire is relatively low. All the shoots 
are trained up vertically on the catch wires, so the vine is standing 
very straight. I don't think there's any question that it's a better 


The one phase that I have omitted and better get in here is that 
I got married in 1962, after my parents were both dead. My mother 
died in 1958. 

Hicke: What is your wife's name? 

Carpy: My wife's maiden name was Anne Prentiss. She was a widow. She had 
married a fellow by the name of Bill Agnew, and they had a daughter, 
Marianne, who was nine years old at the time we got married. Since 
then we've had four additional children. John was born in '64, 
Catherine in '65, Jim in '67, and Charlie, the youngest, was born in 

Hicke: You had a lot of things going on, and a lot on your hands. 

Carpy: I was married during the time that we developed this vineyard, so my 
life has been involved with the vineyard development, the children's 
development, and the the winery development. It still is a handful. 



Starting the Vinery. 1966 

Carpy: Now we're up to the time when we started thinking about a winery. 
Hicke: You indicated that you had been thinking about this all along. 

Carpy: Yes. In fact, Laurie and I chased a couple of ideas down to see 

whether we might be able to fit in something with somebody, and they 
just didn't work out. Finally Jim Varren, who became a partner but 
was a member of the ownership group that bought Freemark in 1965, said 
that they had this lower floor available, and would we be interested 
in putting a winery in the lower floor of the Freemark Abbey stone 

At that time it was just full of old, broken-down things. 

Hicke: I guess I'm not too clear on this. Jim Warren already owned part of 
the building? 

Carpy: He and a fellow by the name of Dick Heggie, who eventually became a 
partner, were both owners of the property here. Jim, being in real 
estate, knew that we (Laurie and I) were looking around for a winery. 
This was in 1966. 

We put together some pro forma stuff with the help of the CPA 
firm which we still use, a guy by the name of Gordon Simon Seiberlich, 
and interested some additional people into the partnership to raise 
enough capital to get the thing started. We felt this would be a good 
site. It was along the highway in those tines, and it had the old 
winery building. You know, Bob Mondavi was the first guy to build a 
winery in Napa Valley in forty years or more; everybody else was in 
old stone wineries that were around here. 


Ue had some meetings with some people like Bill Jaeger. How did 
we run into Dick Heggie? Ue ran into him almost by correspondence. 
John Bryan came in a little later and so did Brad [Vebb] . 

Forming the Partnership 

Hicke: That's it, I think- -all the partners: Laurie Wood, Dick Heggie, Brad 
Webb, Bill Jaeger, Jim Warren, and John Bryan. 

Carpy: We really got the thing off the ground on March 1, 1967. The original 
partners that came on at that point were Dick Heggie, Jim Warren, Bill 
Jaeger, Laurie Wood, and myself. 

Hicke: It was interesting to me to hear that each of these had a different 

Carpy: I just want to say that Brad Webb was hired as a consultant and 

convinced that he could join the partnership soon after, sometime in 
the middle of the year before the crush. John Bryan was brought in 
within about a year or a year and a half, because we bought a piece of 
land that was called Red Barn for our vineyard operation, and we 
needed some more capital. So John was able to provide the additional 
capital. In a sense, although everybody didn't start at once, we sort 
of consider everybody of the original seven to have basically started 
the partnership, and we haven't had any changes up until Jim Warren 

We started as a partnership, and it was primarily a 
recommendation of Bill Jaeger, who was an estate -planning, tax 
attorney type of person from the East Bay. He said partnerships have 
a lot of advantages from a tax standpoint when you start making 
money- -or if there are losses- -because you can pass them [profits or 
losses] right through to the partners, as opposed to holding them in a 

Hicke : Were there any other partnerships in the Napa Valley that you know of? 
Carpy: I don't know of any at that time. 

Restoring the Old Building as the Winery 

Carpy: We formed the partnership and leased the lower floor of the stone 
building, with a little land behind it to act as our start. We 

cleaned up the entire interior of that lower floor and made some major 

changes. We replaced all of the plumbing and installed hot and cold 

Freemark Abbey Winery, 1968 


water throughout the area. We replaced the floors with new concrete 
floors . Some of the floors on the lower section were dirt at the 
time. We installed completely new structural supporting columns for 
the interior of the rooms going up to the upper floor. The columns 
were imbedded in concrete as part of a lot of earthquake compliance at 
that time. And new lighting and electrical things. We put in a 
sprinkler system for fire protection, because wine has a relatively 
high value. When you store a lot of it in a building, you really can 
save a lot of insurance premiums by having sprinklers in the building. 
Of course, the Hurd Beeswax Candle business was up above us, and it 
was all lighted candles up there. So it was a good move. 

History of Freemark Abbev 

Carpy : 

Hicke : 
Carpy : 

Hicke : 


Was wine being made in the Abbey at the time you bought it? 

No. I can tell you a little history about it. As I told you earlier, 
winemaking started here in 1886. A lady by the name of Josephine 
Tychson and her husband had come up here, bought some property, and 
started vineyards, primarily on the west side of the highway on the 
hillside. The time came to build a winery, and he died, I think of 
tuberculosis. She carried on. She added a foreman, and they 
proceeded to build a winery, a small, wooden winery, and they 
proceeded to make wine. I think she finally sold it to her foreman, 
who then in turn sold it to a guy by the name of Antonio Forni. 

Whose name is still on the outside. 

Yes. He was a resident of St. Helena. He's the one who constructed 
the stone building. The story is that they actually built the first 
stone building around the little, old, wooden one. So they kept the 
little, old, wooden winery going until they had the stone building 
built around it, and then they just tore the wooden one down and put 
things wherever they wanted. Then the building was added to through 
1905, in three or four phases. What you see today is what they built. 

It's just this one building that we're in? 

Right. Then Forni died around that period, 1905 to 1910, but the 
family kept the business and ran it until Prohibition. The winery was 
sold and then repossessed, and it went through a name change or two. 
It was called Lombardo Winery under the Forni family name, and I think 
it was called Tychson Winery under the Tychson family. 

Do you know if they had a tasting room or how they sold their wines? 
Were they mostly bulk sales? 


Carpy: Yes. The Fornis I know a little bit about. Antonio had developed a 

very good market for his wines in Barre , Vermont, where the marble and 
granite quarries were. There were a whole lot of Italians in that 
area, and Forni would load the barrels of wine on the train in a 
little depot down here called Barro Station. It was shipped back to 
Vermont, where the Italian stonecutters were the market. I don't know 
what other kinds of sales he had, but that story comes down through 

In Prohibition, as I said, people could nake sacramental wines. 
I don't know whether that went on here or not. They could also make 
bootleg wine [laughs], and I don't know whether that went on here or 
not. When Prohibition was over, we were in the Depression, and things 
were still in pretty tough shape. It was sold and repossessed at 
least twice before the Albert Ahem family finally bought it in about 
'39. He's the one who changed the name to Freemark Abbey. That is a 
play on three people's names: Charles Freeman, Mark Foster, and 
Albert Ahern's nickname was Abbey. They put it together, and so was 
born Freemark Abbey. 

Hicke: It has nothing to do with any monastical- -? 
Carpy: Nothing religious. 

I don't know whether the other two gentlemen had any financial 
interest in it or not, but as far as I know, Ahern ran the business. 
I can recall in San Francisco a little corner store where Ahern sold 
some of his wines in a shop. Whether he actually operated that shop 
or how that worked, I don't know. Ahern, during or right after World 
War II, I have been told, went to southern California and made a 
fortune in real estate down there. That's where he really was in 
business. This more or less had become a summer home and something to 
keep him busy. 

Hicke: Fresh air and exercise. 

Carpy: He did have a son, Michael, who worked in the winery. Towards its 

end, which I think was sometime around the middle of the fifties, it 
primarily was just a bulk wine production. I think it all was sold to 
somebody like Sebastiani. They didn't bottle wine here anymore, as I 
understand it. 

After Ahern went idle, the family continued to own the property. 
Sometime around '62 or '63, the family that owned the Fairmont Hotel 
bought the property from Ahern. They bought it with the idea that 
something could be done here, but they didn't know what. Maybe they 
just made a good buy. 

Hicke : Were there vineyards here , too? 


Carpy: There was a small amount of vineyard around the property, maybe two 
acres worth. 

Hicke: Ahern basically bought most of his grapes? 

Carpy: Oh, yes. He didn't raise nearly enough. And there was a little 

vineyard over where that new vineyard was that I showed you, since 
that was all part of the property in one chunk. 

The fellow from the hotel family held it for a couple of years, 
and then he decided that he really didn't know what he wanted to do 
with it. So he sold it to the Hurd group: Hurd's dad was an 
architect, Dick Heggie, Jim Warren, and a contractor, Dick Valberg, 
from San Francisco who could build big buildings. It was a pretty 
solid group of guys. Hurd wanted to put their candlemaking in here. 
We were really sort of the second tenant. Hurd's Candles probably got 
into business in the first part of '66. They bought it in '65, I 
think. Then we went into the lower floor, and then they added a 
little gift shop alongside the Hurd Candles. In '73, they added the 
Abbey restaurant on the highway side of the building. 

We all operated in that way for quite a while. As a winery, our 
lease had an option to buy an acre of ground to the rear of the 
building where the office was, where I said they made wine jelly. It 
was the Aherns who made the wine jelly. 

Hicke: They had a wine jelly business on the side? 
Carpy: Yes. 

Eioandine the Vlnerv 

Carpy: We had an option to exercise that purchase around '70 or '71. So when 
we could exercise the option, we did, so that we could take over the 
office. At that time that little jelly house was an antique store, 
and we really needed an office building. By exercising the option, we 
were able to tell the antique store that they'd have to move, which 
was all amiable. 

Hicke: When you say "we" exercised the option, who do you mean? 

Carpy: We the winery- -our partnership that we started in '67. When we leased 
the lower floor , we also had in the lease that we could buy one acre 
of ground behind the winery- -not part of the building, but behind the 
winery. This building we're in is on that one acre. 

Hicke: Didn't you indicate that Jim Warren and somebody else already had an 
interest in this before your partnership did? 


Carpy: Jim was part of the original land-owning group, a corporation. Both 
Heggie and Varren were in that, so when we started the winery they 
decided to become partners in the winery as well. That's how they 
came to be part of it. 

When we got the ownership of this one acre back here , we were 
able to build the building that we are currently sitting in. It was 
built by a firm named Overaa out of the East Bay. 

Hicke: Is that somebody's name? 

Carpy: Yes. This provided us some things that we desperately needed: a 
bottling room, a place to store cases, a retail room, and a little 
office space. We had a little wooden building that was occupied as a 
house almost by some people that we used as a retail room, but it 
wasn't adequate. We had to kind of fit into the pattern- -we were 
growing up to 400 tons, and we needed to have case storage and a 
decent bottling room. 

First Crush. 1967 

Carpy: We continued to operate. We started our very first crush in 1967 at 
Robert Mondavi Winery. We had sixty tons of grapes to crush, and we 
didn't feel that the investment in all the crushers and presses and so 
forth was very wise , so we made arrangements to have all our grapes 
delivered to Bob's. The reds he fermented and pressed, and then we 
took them up from the press and finished fermenting them in a non- 
jacketed tank. There was so little Chardonnay- -I think we had 
something like five tons- -that we got a proportionate share of a lot 
of wine that Bob made. We were five out of twenty or something; we 
got a quarter of a tank when that was cleaned up, and we could bring 
it up. That was a little bit later. 

Hicke: Did most of the partners have their own vineyards? 

Carpy: At that time only Laurie Wood and myself did. Laurie had a little 
Cabernet, and most all of the rest of the grapes were my family's. 
This was the third year for my 1964 planting, so they weren't up to 
full production. The Riesling that was in, we didn't even have enough 
to pick, because we didn't make any the first year. 

Hicke: Where had you been selling your grapes before? 

Carpy: In 1966 I sold them to Mondavi. We did have some little bit of old 
vineyard when we first purchased the property from Lutley, and those 
were delivered to the big co-op, as we used to call it- -the Napa 
Valley Co-op. We delivered a few grapes there, but they didn't amount 
to a hill of beans. 


By 1968 we knew we were going to have over a hundred tons, 
because of the vineyards getting older, so ve installed the crusher, 
purchased the press, had the hopper made, and had everything ready to 
go to crush grapes . 

V 1 neTH 

Hicke : And you hired a winemaker? 

Carpy: For the 1967 wine, which we really didn't crush, a guy by the name of 
Dick Steltzner and I, under the direction of Brad Webb, kind of took 
care of the wine through 1968. Then we hired a guy who was an 
engineer out of Stanford by the name of Rich Simpson, who thought he 
was interested in making wine and quite technically educated, although 
not as an enologist. But at that time there weren't any graduate 
enologists. The few who graduated in enology went into their own 
family's business, generally speaking. You know, it would be a 
Mondavi or a Wente who went to the classes at Davis. That's when the 
winemaker posts really started to proliferate in the wine business, 
coming from all kinds of backgrounds, until the University started 
producing a lot more people. 


Carpy: Rich Simpson came in 1968 in time for the harvest, and under the 

tutelage of Brad Webb , proceeded to make our 1968 vintage and also the 
'69. At the end of the '69 crush, Rich Simpson knew that he did not 
want to continue in the winemaking business. He saw the light, 1 
guess. At that time Jerry Luper, who as a graduate of Fresno State 
[College] , had worked the crush I think at Krug (but it could have 
been Martini). He was laid off after the crush, so he came up to the 
winery, and we worked out that he would proceed to be the next 
winemaker. He continued to make wines for us, starting right after 
the '69 crush through '75, so he was with us almost nine years. 

I'll just go through the winemakers . Then Larry Langbehn became 
the next winemaker . He was a graduate in enology from Davis and had 
his master's, I believe. He continued to be the winemaker until 1985 
and in fact did the '85 crush. Then Ted Edwards, our current 
winemaker, came to us. He had worked for us before as a master's 
trainee out of Davis for a couple of crushes. When he finished school 
he went up to Rutherford Hill and was the assistant to Phil Baxter up 
there until Larry left after the '85 crush. Then we brought Ted on, 
and he's been with us since then. 



Carpy: The course of events of winemaking here- -we started out in '67 with 
Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay in quite snail quantities: 5 
tons, or three hundred cases of Chardonnay, something less than two 
thousand cases of Cabernet, and maybe a thousand cases of Pinot Noir. 
It was really quite small numbers. Then the next year we crushed over 
100 tons, and the following year we went over 200. Then we went up to 
275, and by around 1972 we were up to a little bit over 400 tons. 

Hicke: That's a pretty gigantic increase. 

Carpy: Yes, we moved along. It was pretty apparent that if we were going to 
be in business, we had better make some wine. Four hundred tons is 
right around 25,000 cases. In 1968 we added Riesling, and in 1970 we 
added what we call Cabernet Bosche . 

Hicke: That was a special vineyard? 

Carpy: That is a vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1969 we made 
some Petite Sirah from Fritz Maytag' s Spring Mountain ranch, called 
York Creek Vineyards. 

Hicke: You don't tend to think of him as growing grapes. 

Carpy: He has quite a bit of vineyard on Spring Mountain Road. Of course, he 
was in the Anchor Steam Beer business at that time, but he was young 
and interested in the winery. He had this little patch of something 
like sixty-year-old vines at the time that we thought would make some 
special Petite Sirah. We made some in '69, and we didn't make any in 
'70, just sort of waiting to see how well it turned out and whether we 
wanted to continue. In '71 we continued, and we made Petite Sirah 
through the '80 vintage. Then we decided there were too many other 
people. We never made more than seven or eight hundred cases of it. 
It didn't really command a lot of price relative to Chardonnay or 
Cabernet, so we decided to convert that. 

Our last Pinot Noir vintage was 1975, when we decided that was 
not a variety that we wanted to continue. The market was difficult, 
and the price that we were able to get didn't compete with Chardonnay 
or Cabernet. When we quit Pinot Noir, we really decided to increase 
almost that entire production into Chardonnay, so we made a lot more 
Chardonnay than we had before. Primarily the price --it rotated over 
as a two-year wine instead of a four-year wine like Pinot Noir was. 
There was considerable economic advantage to swinging that over to 
Chardonnay, and that is pretty much what is true of Petite Sirah. 

We continued along with those vintages until 1984, when one of 
our partners, John Bryan, had purchased a piece of property at the end 
of Bella Oaks Lane --that's called Sycamore Vineyard. His new 


acquisition was about fourteen acres of vineyard that had been planted 
mostly in Cabernet, so we started making vine from that I think in '81 
with about his first harvest. By the time we crushed the '83, we 
realized that the grapes were really quite unusually good, BO in '84 
we identified it as another vineyard bottling Bosche . So now we have 
the Sycamore Vineyards Cabernet. It's still with us. 

The last change was in 1988, when Ted Edwards decided that he 
would like to produce a vineyard-bottled, barrel -fermented Chardonnay, 
and so we started in 1988 a Carpy Ranch Chardonnay that's barrel 
fermented and sur lie. It's kind of a premium product for us. 

So now we have three vineyard-designated wines, the Chardonnay 
being Carpy Ranch, and the two Cabernets, one being Bosch< and the 
other being Sycamore. And we're still making what we call our Napa 
Valley Cabernet and our Napa Valley Chardonnay. With the 1989 vintage 
we added Merlot. We make Johannisberg Riesling, but we also pretty 
much pioneered in commercial quantities of late harvest wine, which we 
call Edelwein. Edelwein Gold is the current name. The first one we 
made was in 1973, when Jerry Luper was here. 

Hicke: It was his baby, so to speak? 

Carpy: Pretty much his baby. Another fellow who worked for us at the time 
was Mike Richmond, who is associated with Acacia Winery- -the Chalone 
Group- -was working for us in sales, but he was very interested in 
these German- style wines. He and Jerry really got into it and 
produced this 1973 [Edelwein) , which went on to become not only a gold 
medal winner but sort of the wine of the show at the Los Angeles 
County Fair, which at that time was one of the few places where wine 
judging was going on. 

Hicke: It's won quite a lot of acclamation, I think. 

Carpy: Yes. Since then we have made maybe eight more. We can make them when 
the weather conditions are right, so we've done them in '73, '76, '78, 
'82, '86, '88, '89, and '91. 

Hicke: Is it botrytis? 

Carpy: Yes, it's the botrytis on the Johannisberg Riesling grapes that causes 
the berries to shrivel and concentrate the sugar and acids. If the 
rains come and we get humid weather when the regular Riesling is ready 
to pick at about 20 or 21 Brix, and it's not too hot after that, in 
about two or three weeks the grapes will have gone up to about 38 

Hicke: That compares to Trockenbeerenauslese? 


Carpy: It's a Trockenbeerenauslese set of statistics. We continue to make 
that vine when the weather permits us, but it's not one we can make 
every year. 

So now we have these three vineyard-designated wines- -the 
Chardonnay, the Cabernet, and the Riesling- -the Napa Valley label, and 
the Edelwein when we make it. 

Hicke: What's the residual sugar on the Riesling? 

Carpy: Normally? 

Hicke: Yes, the regular. 

Carpy: About 1.2 percent. 

Hicke: So it's fairly dry? 

Carpy: It's relatively dry. It's a nice wine for food or for a cool drink. 
Because there's a little residual sugar in it, you can chill it down 
quite well and not destroy it. When you get Chardonnay very cold, you 
really lose the flavor of it, and sometimes it develops a little bit 
of a bitter character, because you've just about knocked everything 
out that you can taste. But if you want a cool drink of wine, 
anything with residual sugar tastes good; it doesn't turn bitter, and 
it has a kind of a flowery, sweet flavor. 

Hicke: I think the Riesling grape has an interesting flavor. 

Carpy: Some people taste a little bit of a background of Muscat in it. It 
kind of gives you that illusion, anyway, even if it isn't really 
there . 

So those are our wines . 

Roles of the Partners 

Hicke: Let me back up a bit and ask how you determined what each partner was 
going to do, and, more specifically, what your part was going to be? 

Carpy: When we first started the partnership, Dick Heggie was overseas; Bill 
Jaeger was in Oakland, practicing law; John Bryan was in San 
Francisco, doing his venture capital type work that he does. Jim 
Warren was here, but he was active in his real estate business, so 
Laurie and I really were the active partners on the scene. But since 
Laurie's ranch management business kept him occupied a great part of 
the time, I was really the one who was sort of the everyday, on- the - 
scene manager . 

Freeraark Abbey Vinery partners, 1985. Standing: Brad Webb, 
Jim Warren, Dick Heggie. Seated: Laurie Wood, Chuck Carpy, 
Bill Jaeger, John Bryan. 


Brad was over as a winemaker consultant, and when we'd get 
together, obviously Bill was the attorney and would do any legal thing 
we needed to change the partnership or to make a contract with a 
distributor or something. That would be his side of the gane. John 
Bryan just kind of had an investment attitude about things and helped 
direct a good business pattern of investment --cash flow and that kind 
of thing. 

Dick Heggie was still overseas for the first couple of years. I 
was, with Laurie, sort of the driving force to get the winery started. 
Laurie and I were the ones who did the pro forma stuff, had the grapes 
that were going to go into it, and all that. At that time grapes were 
very scarce, because most everything was committed to somebody. There 
were only about ten thousand acres of grapes in Napa Valley by that 
time . Another ten thousand was in prunes and walnuts . As these 
wineries started up, like Bob Mondavi --he had to really- -well, he 
ended up inheriting some of the Krug vineyards as part of a 
settlement, so he got started with a couple of partners, Ivan Schoch 
and Fred Holmes. They had vineyards, so that was the nucleus of 
vineyards that he brought to his winery. To this winery, we brought 
Laurie's and mine originally. Then Laurie got hold of the Petite 
Sirah on Spring Mountain, because he managed that ranch for Fritz. 
During the course of time we bought some Cabernet from other vineyards 
(I can't remember their names now) down in Stag's Leap country. 
Again, Laurie was the manager there. 

Pros and Cons of Vineyard Ownership versus Buying Grapes 

Hicke: What are the pros and cons of growing your own and buying grapes? 

Carpy: The pros of owning--! consider any of our partners' grapes essentially 
owned, because we have the same purpose in mind- -you have the control 
of how you want the grapes to be grown relative to the quality that 
you're looking for. You really don't have that quite with another 
grower, or at least you don't start out that way. It takes time for 
growers and wineries to agree on how everything is supposed to be . 

As you get bigger there's a certain advantage in not growing 
everything yourself, because the outside grower is sort of the safety 
valve. If demand comes on fast, why, you can add grapes more quickly 
by Just going to another grower, rather than buying land and starting 
a vineyard, which is time consuming. I'll give you a really good 
example. If you recall, when Bob Mondavi started, one of the very 
early, great successes he had was Camay Rose\ Now you can hardly find 
an acre of Camay grapes any more. He purchased most of those, so when 
the demand for Camay fell off, it wasn't on his land; it was on 
somebody else's. So you Just cancel contracts, and you're out of that 


and don't have to go through the process of pulling out a vineyard and 
replanting it. 

Hicke: It's a little less risk if you are buying grapes? 

Carpy: Yes, for those little changes and for fluctuations in the market. But 
then you have to protect yourself from the whims of all the growers, 
so most big wineries grow maybe 60 percent of the grapes that they 
produce. They tend to want to grow the premium grapes --the 
Chardonnays, the Cabernets, the Merlots, and the Pinot noirs, because 
their reputations are built on those grapes. They don't want a lot of 
uncontrollable things to happen to them. But grapes like Johanntsberg 
Riesling, Chenin blanc, or Sauvignon blanc, why, they're happy to buy 
those on the open market, so to speak. It's Just kind of a hedging 

Hicke: So you need a mix. 

Carpy: Yes. The advantages of owningwe don't own Bosche , but we have a 

very long-term contract. We've worked to establish the name, and we 
wouldn't want it to be jerked outnot that the vines would be jerked 
out, but somebody might bid out against us. We really need strong 
control over the things we start naming that you could lose. 

Hicke: They have a vested interest in maintaining it, too. 
Carpy: Oh, absolutely. 

Hick: It sounds like establishing a long-term relationships is somewhere in 

Carpy: That's right, and in our case, we really became net sellers of grapes 
after we bought what we called Red Barn Ranch. We leased it in 1969, 
and I think we bought it in '71. It was about a 145-acre piece of 
property on which we developed 130 acres of vineyard. Now it's under 
sprinkler -frost protection, and we are currently going through the 
replanting program against this phylloxera Biotype B, which we started 
doing in 1988. We didn't really know we were battling phylloxera, but 
we pulled some vineyard that we planted on these new rootstocks, so we 
were , in a sense , able to do the right thing on wooded plants . 

Hicke: What's the new rootstock? 

Carpy: We have 110-R, 5C, 03916, and 3309. All those are scattered around 

here someplace or another in the new plantings. We are concentrating 
on that [indicates Red Barn] vineyard for 03916 now, because it has 
turned out to be the only rootstock that has some resistance to fan 
leaf. Fan leaf is a virus, but it is borne by nematode. The nematode 
is a little worm- like critter in the ground, microscopic. They feed 
on the vine roots and of course infect the vine if they are carrying 
the virus in their gut. 


Hicke: And they are in that soil in that vineyard? 

Carpy: Yes. So we have that problem. Now we're pretty much putting 
everything on 03916. 

Hicke: Are you planting a lot of Merlot? 

Carpy: Veil over half of what we put back is Merlot. This spring we're going 
to plant sixteen more acres of Merlot and eight acres of Cabernet 
Franc. But actually these grapes are to sell, not for ourselves. We 
replanted enough Merlot, and now we've replanted enough Chardonnay to 
sustain what we need here, of course with some grapes from Laurie's 
ranch, some from our family, and some from Jaeger; and then we've got 
the Bosche and the Sycamore. Bosche has started a replanting program. 
They've done seven or eight acres of 03916 replanting, and in another 
year or two they'll do another batch. Bryan's vineyard is only twelve 
or fourteen years old, but he's going to start doing a little program, 

From the standpoint of the winery, you don't want to lose the 
whole vineyard for four years, because you lose, so to speak, your 
customers. Even if the production goes down a little bit, at least 
it's still going on. This phylloxera thing is really- -it's not that 
we don't have solutions; it's just that it's so darned expensive. We 
planted a small acreage, an eight-acre chunk up near Calistoga, just 
on the west side of Dunaweal Lane, on the other side of the highway. 
The two years- -one year of cleaning up the ground and getting it ready 
to plant, and the first year putting it in the ground- -cost us over 
twelve thousand dollars an acre, and we're going to have about fifteen 
in it by the time it really is producing. So you talk about replacing 
130 acres at that rate- -it takes a bundle of bucks, so it's very 
difficult to do. 

Our agricultural operation can only take care of maybe twenty- 
five acres at a time anyway. We just don't have the equipment and the 
personnel. Beringer could do a hundred acres at a time, because 
they've got a big vineyard operation of four or five thousand acres, 
but for someone like ourselves, operating a couple of hundred acres, 
twenty- five acres is plenty to take care of and take care of it right. 
When you put that much money into it, you don't want to come back and 
do it again. 

Hicke: Are the banks being somewhat more amenable than they have been? How 
do they feel about phylloxera? 

Carpy: Banks are difficult. From their standpoint, they have to have some 
kind of security for their loan. Somebody who had just bought a 
twenty-acre parcel of land and put a vineyard on it in the last five 
years probably has at least $40 thousand an acre invested in that. If 
he has to come back and replant that vineyard for another $12 thousand 
or $15 thousand an acre, he hasn't got any borrowing room in his 


equity. He's just borrowed out, so the bank can't risk it. The only 
thing he can do is look to outside sources of capital, either his own 
or bring in a new partner or sell off a chunk. It puts some people in 
a very, very awkward spot. For any of us who are in the thing, it 
soaks up a lot of capital in a relatively short period of time. Even 
if you can afford to finance it all, your cash flow is almost all 
going back to the lender. It's a lot to pay back. 

As someone pointed out, phylloxera cones in hundred-year cycles. 
It's just about a hundred years ago that this whole valley was lost to 

Hicke: And it takes about a hundred years to recover from the last one? 

Partnerships: Making Decisions 

Hicke: Let me get back to something we talked about a little bit off the 

tape, and that is the difficulty of partnerships and how decisions are 
made . 

Carpy: As I told you, we are very fortunate in having a group of partners 
that got along well. We just missed twenty-five years of nobody 
dying. You have to understand that of our current partners, I'm the 
youngest, and I'm sixty- five. So everybody else is sixty- five or 
older, and Laurie is over seventy. He may be the oldest. Everybody 
is in that age group where our longevity isn't too much further as 
actively working. But for that first twenty- five years we got along 
fine. It's a small partnership, and each partner had some expertise 
to bring to the table that helped us. Jim Varren, with his background 
in advertising and labels, was very instrumental in developing our 
label, and he knew artists. In fact, the rough design for our label 
was done by Hal Reine, the Bartels & James guy. 


Carpy: Jim knew Hal Reine. He got five or six different versions of labels, 
and we chose this one. A fellow by the name of Gordon Brewster in 
Napa finished it. I don't know if Brewster was in Napa at the time; 
he might have been in Mar in County. Brews ter's son played pro 
baseball; he was a pitcher, I believe. 

As I said, Bill was very instrumental in working with the legal 
side of things. Laurie's experience in all of his ranch managing kept 
us abreast of what was going on in vineyard developments and equipment 
and whatever, because he was constantly involved in planting new 
vineyards back in those days when we were starting. 


Brad was a professional wine consultant at the time he came to 

Hicke: And you had a good background in agriculture and management. 

Carpy: Yes, 1 was an ag. economist and knew a little bit about growing some 
grapes. I knew how wineries worked. I wasn't a pro at it, but I had 
worked in one for a couple of years and lived right alongside it all 
my life. 

So we were a pretty good team. 

Hicke: When you sat down and decided what kind of wine to make, did everybody 
have something to say? 

Carpy: I suppose so. Everybody agreed to it. We said, "Let's make two reds 
and two whites , " and chose Cabernet and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and 
Riesling as good candidates. We were flexible enough to drop some and 
add some as the market changed. When we started putting the word 
"Petite Sirah" on labels, I'll bet we were one of maybe five or six 
wineries in California that did it. When we finished we were one of 
at least eighty making Petite Sirah. That's the kind of thing you 
live with as you progress down the line being in business. 

Hicke: Did you have meetings regularly or communicate by telephone? 

Carpy: Oh, we'd have at least an annual meeting for everybody, and then a 
group of us would usually meet once every couple of months , mainly 
Laurie, Bill, John, Brad, and myself. We'd just talk about things -- 
whether we needed money, how the market was going, or whatever. 

Now we've reached the point that our generation is going to have 
to give over the reins to other people, and whether they're in the 
families or not, we don't know yet. Each of us has children, so if 
the third generation were to just turn everything over, we'd go from 
the seven husbands and seven wives to [adds in his head] at least 
twenty in the next generation, not counting husbands and wives. We'd 
go from fourteen to forty in the course of four or five years . 
Assuming we don't die off, we'll be old and not worth much anyway. 
We ' re entering that period where we are going to have to resolve that 
as we go along. 

Hicke: You have five children, you told me, and one, Catherine, has been with 
the winery for at least three years. 

Carpy: Yes. She is a graduate in marketing, so she started in sales and 

marketing. We are so small that we don't have a marketing person and 
a sales person; we really have to double up on that kind of thing. 
Bill Jaeger has a son, Jeff, who is working at Rutherford Hill. 
Laurie has a son who is working in the vineyards with him in his ranch 
management business. We'll just have to see how things go along. 


We have a very good, competent winemaker who could operate this 
place on a day-to-day basis without any problem at all from now on if 
we had to, but you have outside things like capital formation and 
things like that. We've been lucky enough to have partners who are 
helpful there. This next generation is either going to have to learn 
how to do it or hire somebody to do it. Almost anybody can hire 
talent, but they don't have quite the same objectives as insiders do, 
because they're looking at their own careers and are liable to move on 
to other things if their capacity is good enough. You don't blame 
them; it's just what you have to accept as a change when you hire 
outsiders. When you bring in outside management, you're hiring a guy 
who is looking to feather his own nest along the way in one way or 

Hicke: You still manage your vineyard? 

Carpy: Pretty much, yes. Although we have a ranch manager down on the 

property who takes care of both the winery's and our family's; we kind 
of operate them together. You need someone day-to-day, but I make the 
decisions on what to plant and what rootstocks go in. For the last 
three years, when all this phylloxera thing came along and we were 
going into a lot of replanting and new rootstocks that we weren't 
familiar with, we hired a consultant by the name of [Amand] Kasimatis, 
who is a retired professor at Davis in the viticulture department, to 
give us advise and make sure we weren't making any stupid mistakes. 
As I said, it's too damned expensive to make a mistake these days-- 
knowingly or from stupidity, anyway. We may make mistakes just 
because nature is sometimes kind of fickle, but at least we'd like to 
minimize those . 


Carpy: I'd like to talk a little bit about marketing, if I can. 
Hicke: Good idea. 

Carpy: When we first started, we made the conscious decision that we wanted 
to sell about half of our wine out of the state of California so that 
we didn't have, in a sense, all of our eggs in one basket. The second 
thing we decided to do was to deal with California directly, as 
allowed by law here in California. So we developed relationships with 
stores and restaurants in California. At that time, at the beginning 
of our marketing, which was really about 1970, the decision was made 
to not pursue the mailing list approach to retail sales, because we 
felt that it was negative to our relationships- -with the stores 
especiallymaybe not so much the restaurants. 

Hicke: You'd sort of be in competition? 


Carpy: Yes. In other words, you'd try to lure all the good customers up for 
direct sales , and we felt that was something the stores would not 
particularly appreciate. In reflection, it probably was a mistake. I 
think in the long run of things, we would have been better off with a 
more solid relationship with the consumer directly. Of course, we 
didn't anticipate all the competition we got, and we didn't really 
anticipate the great surge of wine drinking that came on. 

Our marketing developed into sort of a binodel thing. We had a 
number of states that we covered with a broker by the name of Robert 
Haas. He essentially did all of the states east of the Mississippi 
except for Massachusetts, where we had already established a 
relationship with Bert Williams of Classic Wine Imports, Inc. Other 
than that state, Haas did all the states, and he also included Texas 
and Oklahoma on the west side of the river. That relationship went 
along quite well. We took care of the states to the west of his area, 
mainly through Mike Richmond, who we mentioned earlier was involved in 
sales . 

Then Rutherford Hill came into the show, which we'll describe a 
little later. When they came into the picture in 1976, the decision 
was made to make a sort of a single marketing sales group be 
responsible for the sales of both companies. That really didn't turn 
out too well for Freemark or Rutherford Hill, because we both had 
different requirements. They were needing broader distribution; they 
had to get into more supermarket type stores and/or restaurant chains 
like TGIF, because they had a lot more wine to sell and were trying to 
grow. We kind of fell into the background a little bit. After a 
couple of years of trying that, we decided to do things on our own. 

Becky Walker, who is our current marketing and sales director, 
was part of this joint marketing and sales group, and she came to work 
for Freemark solely. In the course of time we built a couple more 
people into the project. We had Karen Flaum out of Atlanta, who took 
care of the Southeast, and a fellow by the name of Mitch Warner in the 
Northeast. Catherine did pretty much the center of the country, and 
Becky did California and Washington. 

We started off fairly well, and we were growing. But as the 
competition in the wine business --in 1985 or '86, when the market 
started to shrink- -was, about the time we got started with the idea, 
we were finding that in order to hold our share of the market that we 
wanted, we were having to give sharper and sharper deals. These 
people out in the market were terribly expensive. It cost about 
$100,000 to maintain somebody out in a territory who has to travel and 
entertain and so forth. We were just finding that our marketing costs 
were getting to be too big a percentage of our gross, and it didn't 
look like there was any change in the offing. 

So about two years ago we contacted Paterno Imports , a Chicago 


Hicke : How did you select them? 

Carpy: I got to know them through Markham Vinery, who was using them, and 

Bryan Del Bondio, who was the general manager over there, had worked 
out an arrangement with them. Between a visit to Chicago and then a 
visit by their people out here, it took us six or eight months to come 
to the conclusion that we would like to Join forces. So on the first 
of July, 1992, we went into an arrangement with them where they would 
be the national distributor for Freenark Abbey and would include in 
that not only the sales side of things but all the marketing costs, 
which would include point-of-sale material, market visits --the whole 

This relieved us dramatically of a lot of the responsibility of 
producing this point-of-sale material, et cetera, and we were able to 
in a sense lay off the two people who were out in the field, reduce 
Catherine's costs of market visits, and the whole thing. We are now 
through eight months of that relationship. It's sort of on track, but 
we still don't know for sure Just how the whole thing will eventually 
turn out as far as growing up to what we want it to be. They have 
ninety people in the field, and we could afford two. They're making 
visits to the major market areas all the time. If this thing will 
work out, we hope it will allow us to grow up to our fifty thousand 
cases in the next couple of years and sort of get used to working with 
each other. They're trying to position us with some type of an image 
into their marketing in the United States. They have Markham and 
Rutherford Hill now, and they have a little winery over in Sonoma 
called [J] Rochioli [Vineyards and Winery]. 

We just have to learn to work with each other more and make sure 
that this whole thing happens, but I think it's the right direction, 
especially now when there's an awful lot of competition out there. 
The number of distributors is declining, so the choices that you have 
in any one market are greatly reduced from what they were ten years 
ago. Everybody's looking for a home, you know. As one will go out of 
business or get bought up by another, all the people in the one that's 
being gobbled up are out looking for other people to take them on. So 
we feel it's an important step for us to move in this direction. 

Paterno as a company came up through mostly import work. They 
have a lot of Italian lines. They're a large company. I think they 
are now over $200 million in sales in the United States. Well, that's 
a lot of wine. They're well entrenched and well put together in the 
United States market, but working with new guys like Freemark or 
Rutherford Hill, the personnel out in the field has to get a feel for 
whom they're dealing with and the product style- -where the effort is 
to put them and things like that. 

That's pretty much what we've done. In the meantime, we continue 
to do our own export sales. We've always had a little bit of export 


business, and Becky is still responsible for that and has been for 
quite a while. 

Hicke: Didn't Cathy say England was--? 

Carpy: We started with England as our very first export market, but the major 
market right now is Canada. I guess second place would probably go to 
Switzerland, and then a smattering of wine to Germany. I think we 
have some wine in Belgium now, we have some wine in Sweden, we have 
some wine in Norway, Hong Kong, and Singapore. We have sold some wine 
to New Zealand and Australia, but we haven't done much in the last 
couple of years there. 

Looking to the future, I think the real long-term future for 
California wines and ourselves is especially the metropolitan areas 
that are the major business centers of the world and/or the major 
recreation areas . I think when you talk about recreation areas , 
Mexico and some of South America is going to be really the place they 
will be. These beautiful beach resorts are proliferating; they really 
have the beautiful beaches and the lovely ocean. I think that's where 
we're going to be spending some time trying to get our feet wet. In 
fact, we just got an order from Brazil, so that's our initial shot 
down there. We haven't figured out a way to get into Mexico yet, 
which I'd like to do. It's a little confusing on how things work down 
the re s ome t ime s . 

Hicke: Let me go back and ask you about when you first started making wine 

and marketing it. How did you arrive at pricing decisions and aim at 
a niche? 

Carpy: Pricing decisions have been made all the way along by comparative 

tastings. When our wine was ready to be released, we would gather six 
to ten other contemporary wineries that we felt were our image 
wineries, and we'd taste our wines blind so that we could see how our 
wine stood in the group. We'd use that as a basis for pricing it, and 
we continue to do that. I think we're a little bit more price stable 
than we used to be. We used to really move the price up and down 
quite a bit if we thought the wine was better or worse. But our 
experience found that you could lower the price if you thought the 
next vintage was a little bit inferior to the one you had on the 
market, but when you went to visit the state, they hadn't changed 
their prices. So all we did was give a few more bucks into their 

So we tend to be a little more price stable, but we still make 
comparative tastings just to see how our wines are doing, and we kind 
of like to see what other people are doing and their pricing of wines. 
It is still done by comparison with, now, a little bit of stability 
tossed in. 

Hicke: Let's leave Rutherford Hill and the Wine Commission until tomorrow. 


Vinery Equipment 

[Interview 2: March 5, 1993 ]## 

Hicke : I thought I would start this morning by asking you to fill in a couple 
of holes I thought of about Freemark Abbey. You were telling me that 
when you redid the winery, you had to get the equipment specially 
made . Would you elaborate on that? 

Carpy: Going back to the initial putting in the tanks and refurbishing the 
winery after we took over the space in 1967, we dealt with an outfit, 
Valley Foundry, over in Fresno or Modesto. They designed a layout for 
the fermenting room, basically the stainless steel tanks, to maximize 
the tanks that we could get in there, still leaving us working room 
aisles and that sort of thing. One of the restrictions that was put 
on the size of the tanks was that they had to come through the winery 
stone door opening that existed, so that limited the maximum diameter 
of a tank to the doorway. They just did a marvelous job, when you 
figure that we got the tanks in there that we did and were able to 
pull them into the building, stand them up, and put them on the tank 
pads that were in place . 

Hicke: They fabricated the tanks specially? 

Carpy: Yes, they fabricated the tanks at Valley Foundry and truck- transported 
them here. They were off-loaded, and we rolled them down to the door 
opening. We had to make a special, little, dolly- like thing so that 
we could roll the tank in through the door and up onto the tank pads, 
then stand them up and move them across from aisle to aisle. It 
turned out that it worked; whatever they did, they did a very, very 
fine Job of getting things right so that we didn't make any mistakes. 

Hicke: Was there a height limitation, too? It seems like the ceiling in that 
room is low. 

Carpy: There would have been, because the ceilings existed. The tanks 

couldn't be over a certain height in order to stand up in the room. I 
think the ceiling in that room from the walking floor is probably 
about thirteen feet, and the tank pads for the fermenters were about 
twenty- four to thirty inches off the floor. So the vertical room that 
they had to work in was limited to the tank heights that would fit 
into those things. It all worked out, but it was kind of a job 
getting those things in there. 

Hicke: I notice that you have some French barrels, but you also have a lot 
that were made at Demptos [in Napa, California]. 

Carpy: If you want to hear a horror story about barrels! The first barrels 
we bought were in 1967. In those days we bought all the barrels from 

Freemark Abbey Winery, 1990 


the French cooper, Demptos . They would be shipped over, and in two 
barrels they would have all the parts for six barrels. In other 
words, two whole barrels turned into six, because they had the heads 
and the staves of four others. They were put together here by a 
cooper. From 1967 through probably 1969, the cost of those barrels 
was $37, and we paid $3 to put them together; so we paid no more than 
$40 for what is now a $500 barrel. 

Hicke: That's a little more than normal inflation. 

Carpy: Yes. An old fellow by the name of Vince Grayson was the cooper around 
town. He had sort of a quota. Every day he'd come in and put 
together about fifteen or sixteen barrels, and then he'd come back the 
next day. 

Hicke: He did them right here on the site? 
Carpy: Yes, he did them right here on the spot. 
Hicke: And he toasted them here, too? 

Carpy: No, they were pretty much untoasted barrels, although they had been 
made in France . In other words , they had been made and then 
disassembled and repacked in a different way. All the staves were 
numbered, so that all the parts of a barrel were identified in the 
order that the staves were put around it. 

He ran into a bridge, and that finished poor old Mr. Grayson. 

Twelve or fifteen years ago Demptos set up a cooperage here in 
Napa. They would send over the staved wood. It hadn't been 
assembled, but they were cut out in the form of staves and had head 
wood. Then they would actually fire them here, bend them, put the 
hoops on, and finish the job. Of course, then they didn't have to 
disassemble them. 

Hicke: You still get them from Demptos? 

Carpy: Yes, although the Demptos family has sold out of the cooperage 

business. It's owned by somebody else now. What's called Demptos 
Cooperage here is basically owned by the Jaeger family. There are a 
couple of others, one up in Calistoga and another barrel merchant down 
here on Lodi Lane . 

Hicke: Do you get them sometimes from other cooperages? 

Carpy: Once in a while we get some other oak. There are different forests 
that the oak comes from, and sometimes our winemaker wants a few 
barrels from a different forest. Ve have purchased a small percentage 
of American oak barrels now, to put the reds in, because they are 
substantially cheaper. They are coopered and the wood is handled like 


the French oak barrels are, so they're not like whiskey barrels used 
to be. The wood is air-dried for a longer period of time. The whole 
process is maybe not a whole lot different, but it's a little 
different. We're pretty pleased with what we're finding in the 
American oak. 

Hicke: 1 was talking to [Uinemaker] Ted Edwards yesterday, and he told me 
that the Chardonnay for the most part doesn't go through malolactic 
fermentation, which is fairly unusual. 

Carpy: That's right, especially the barrel -fermented style. I don't think 
the typical stainless -steel -fermented probably goes through 
malolactic, but some do and some don't. We have intentionally avoided 
malolactic fermentation. We don't think it's something we want to do. 
It reduces the acidity a bit, and we don't feel we have that much 
acidity to get rid of. It makes a more buttery style wine, and it's 
just not our style. 

Hicke: Is that pretty much Ted Edwards 's influence? 

Carpy: Well, Brad Webb's, really. He sort of set the style, what you might 
call the California Chardonnay style as opposed to the barrel- 
fermented, Burgundian style. I think some people were using some 
malolactic in the Chardonnays , but we just didn't choose to, and we've 
continued that style. 

Rutherford Hill Vinerv 

Hicke: Let's go on to Rutherford Hill winery. Maybe you can tell me why you 
decided to buy this winery and how it all worked out. 

Carpy: After we had purchased and planted Red Barn Ranch, the winery's 

vineyards down by Rutherford, it was very apparent that we had a whole 
lot more production than would be put through this winery. In 
addition, the Jaeger family had moved up here, and they had purchased 
some land and had planted substantial vineyards. So we really started 
to plan a second winery that we were going to build at Red Barn for 
this excess grape supply. 

About 1975, '76, Pillsbury had purchased the Souverain Winery of 
Rutherford and had built an additional winery over in Geyserville, so 
they identified the two as Souverain of Rutherford and Souverain of 
Geyserville. But they decided to get out of the wine business. We 
went over before they actually made the statement that they were 
getting out. We said that if they were ever interested in selling the 
Rutherford winery, we would be interested in knowing about it and 
would probably be interested in making an offer. 

Chuck Carpy introducing the new Carpy 
Ranch Chardonnay, 1990. 

Hicke: So you had already identified that as a potential purchase? 

Carpy: Well, it really didn't make sense to be operating two wineries. They 
had built this brand-new one, and it was substantially larger. So we 
thought maybe we would plant our surplus to their needs . But as it 
turned out, they decided to get out of the business completely, and we 
were able to purchase the building and the land. We told them we 
weren't interested in the label or the wine that was in there except 
for a very small amount of Chardonnay and Cabernet, as I recall. 

We made an offer that they accepted, so we were able to purchase 
the winery. 

Hicke : Same partnership? 

Carpy: By the time we decided to really get going, it was obvious that a 

substantially larger amount of capital was going to be required, so 
other people were brought in. I don't really recall what that 
partnership was when it first started, but it's over twenty partners 
now. So it's a substantially larger partnership. There have been a 
few changes. Some of the original ones have died and the families 
have taken over, some have sold out and others have taken over, 
additional partners have been added in the course of time when more 
capital is required. So it's a much larger partnership and a more 
diverse group than Freemark. 

Hicke: I have a note about the W. E. Cole Ranch. 

Carpy: That's what we call Red Barn. The Cole Ranch actually belonged to a 
relative of Laurie's mother. I don't quite recall the relationship; 
she might have been a sister to the Coles. Laurie was close to the 
Coles. The Coles had no sons and two or three daughters, and it was 
apparent that they weren't going to carry on operating the ranch; so 
we were able to make an offer there that worked out for their purposes 
and our purposes . We leased the place for a couple of years and had 
an option to purchase it on the death of one of the members, Mr. W. E. 

Ue have 130 acres of vineyard on it, so there was about the same 
amount of farmable land. 1 would say there was probably sixty acres 
of walnuts , maybe thirty or forty acres of prunes , a small acreage of 
grapes, and a little bit of open land. Ue essentially took out the 
prune orchard, which was on the east half of the ranch, and got some 
vineyard started. Ue cleaned out the walnuts about a year later, so 
we had probably completed planting by about '73. 

There were some beautiful old walnut trees there, with great, big 
stumps. The stumps had a market value. Some guy over in Santa Rosa 
was buying the walnut stumpage. It was used partly for gun stocks, 
and a lot of it was sent to Italy for furniture making. They peeled 
it for veneer. I don't know how they did it, but a lot of that sort 


of gnarly wood that's right around the bottom of a tree made some 
pretty wood, and it was marketed over there. 

Hicke: Oh, that's interesting. 

Then you redid the building? 

Carpy: In a couple of years. There was a home on it, and we decided that we 
had no need for the home , so we carved out about three acres and sold 
the home to a Napa contractor, Dick Howell. We kept the old barn on 
the place, which was originally a winery, the old Adamson winery that 
was built prior to 1900 and probably stopped production about that 
same time. Cole bought it, I think, in 1905 or '06, and he was a 
prune and walnut man; so winemaking was gone by the time Cole took it 

I don't know much about the Adamson winery. There's a family by 
the name of Vasconi in town, and it was Joe Vasconi's uncle who built 
that winery. I know he was involved in the Italian Swiss Colony 
construction. It seems to me that Joe told me that his uncle spent 
some time in Mexico. I don't know if he went to Mexico first and then 
came up here and got into the building of these things or whether he 
was just here, down there, and back up here. I think Italian Swiss 
Colony started around 1885, so it was in that era that Adamson winery 
would have been constructed. 

Cole turned the winery into a prune and walnut dryer operation. 
In the early days, prunes were sun-dried. They had little tracks, and 
they'd roll these prune trays out into the yard and lay them out in 
the sun. At the threat of rain they'd have to stack them all up and 
put them back inside the barn. Then dehydration tunnels became 
available sometime in the late twenties or early thirties, and Cole 
built a dehydrator so that he could dry both prunes and walnuts, 
although they required different temperatures. That kind of 
eliminated the sun-drying side of it, but it still was a lot of work. 

The prune industry is gone from Napa Valley now. I told you that 
when we first started in about 1965, there were about 10,000 acres of 
vineyards and about 10,000 acres of prunes and walnuts. The rest was 
dairies and other things. By 1980, I'd say that the walnuts and 
prunes were basically gone. It only took ten or fifteen years to 
eliminate all that. Now the total acreage of vines in Napa Valley is 
about 33,000 or 34,000. It's not only taken all the prunes and 
walnuts, which were always on the best land, but it has added a lot of 
vineyards on the hillsides that were never in vineyard before, and 
some of the pasture land and open fields has turned into vineyards as 

Hicke: It must have been spectacular when all those plum trees were in bloom. 


Carpy: It was beautiful. It really was. People would drive up and down, 
looking at the scenery. In the old days, when you drove through 
orchards that were close to the highway, It really essentially blocked 
the view. You were driving through tunnels of trees, and you didn't 
see a lot of the views that you see now. But it was pretty when the 
prunes were in bloom. 

Hicke: Back to Rutherford Hill, Pillsbury had built the building? 

Carpy: Souverain had built this new facility in about 1960 or '61. This was 
before Pillsbury bought it. It was done by Fred Holmes and Ivan 
Schoch- -you' 11 recognize those two names as part of the Mondavi 
operation, but they had been bought out by then- -and Lee Stewart, who 
was the owner of the old Souverain Vinery, which is now the Burgess 
[Cellars] winery. There were maybe some other people involved, but 
they started this Souverain of Rutherford. Pillsbury bought them out, 
and they decided to get out around the first part of '76. As I 
recall, the purchase from Pillsbury was in May of 1976, so obviously 
this stuff was for sale and we negotiated for a while before it all 

That gave us a nice facility to proceed with the idea of having 
these surplus grapes. Obviously we changed the name to Rutherford 
Hill and created our own label. They've now eliminated Sauvignon 
Blanc and Gewurztraminer from their production, but when we first 
started, Rutherford Hill we had Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, 
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer. Now they've added a 
Zinfandel Port up there and have accentuated the Merlot production so 
that it's the dominant one now. It started with Chardonnay being the 
dominant variety that we made up there, but now it's shifted to the 
major emphasis on Merlot. 

Hicke: Did you target the wine for a special niche? 

Carpy: No, I don't think it was particularly a niche. It was priced to be 
competitive with people like BV [Beaulieu Vineyard] , Inglenook, and 
Robert Mondavi. Its capacity at the time we purchased- -it was sort of 
designed for 60,000 cases, but that included a lot of case goods 
storage. We moved the case goods storage to another location, and it 
allowed it to become a 70,000- to 80, 000 -case winery. Then we built 
the caves up there, over half a mile of caves for barrel aging, so now 
the capacity of the place is probably 180,000 cases, depending on what 
variety you go through. Red wines usually age two years while 
Chardonnay is less than one. You need twice as many barrels to age 
the same amount of Cabernet as Chardonnay. It's substantially larger 
than it was when we purchased it. 

The Jaeger family is the dominant owner of that operation, and 
Bill Jaeger is managing partner over there. 


Vine Service CO-OP 

Hicke : When you said you moved the case storage , was that to the Vine Service 

Carpy: Yes. The Wine Service Co-op started out actually here at Freemark 
Abbey. In the days that we were in it, in order to ship wine to 
California or out-of -state customers, the trucking firms would have to 
go up to all the little individual wineries and pick up wine, and some 
of them were a little bit remote. When we built this building that 
we're sitting in in 1973, which is now the case storage for Freemark, 
we ended up with a loading dock and so forth. So we decided to have 
people bring the wine here and then ship it out. We made arrangements 
with the trucking company that would give us a little better deal 
because we assembled all this wine. If two of us were shipping, say, 
wine to the same store, instead of two five-case orders or whatever, 
it would turn into a ten-case order, and you'd get a little better 
freight rate on those combined deliveries. 

That worked out quite well. The people who were involved in it 
at that time were Schramsberg, Heitz, and I guess Phelps was probably 
operating by then. There were others, but I can't tell you who they 
were. It became evident that it would be to the benefit of the group 
if we built a case storage place. Instead of each winery building a 
small building, we'd build one big one and get all the economies of 
scale that we could. The group decided to build a building which is 
across from the high school down on Dowdell Lane and the main highway. 
I think the first building that we constructed was about 40,000 square 
feet. We thought that would take care of us for at least three or 
four years , and we were out of room in about two . We added about 
another 60,000 square feet, so we were essentially about 100,000 
square feet. 

We would include new members, so the group was growing as well as 
the size of the individuals in the group was growing. That was the 
second phase, and then we did a third phase of another 70,000 square 
feet at that site. We now have 170,000 square feet of storage space, 
and we store about 1,300,000 cases down there and ship from there. We 
are just starting the fourth phase. We're provided for about a 
120, 000 -square -foot building in the Napa airport area and hope to have 
it constructed this summer. So we keep growing. It seems to be a 
useful thing for the small wineries. 

Hicke: Who manages that? 

Carpy: There's a board of directors of the members, 
winery members, I believe. 


There are thirty-eight 


Carpy: The actual manager is a young guy by the name of Bob Holmes, who has 
been with us since the start of the construction. It's a typical 
complement of fork truck drivers who receive and also ship the wine, 
and then we have a computer system that allows all the individual 
members to send orders in. They're consolidated, and the computer 
system does the billing and a whole lot of stuff. There's a certain 
amount of administrative personnel to take care of the picking 
tickets, bills of lading that have to be made, and all that stuff. 
But it's really quite an efficient operation and certainly a benefit 
to all of us to have it. 

Hicke : You have storage here , too? 

Carpy: Yes, but we built this before that, or we would never have built this 
storage here. It's just that we needed the storage badly. In fact, 
now we're part of this new phase that's being built, because we're 
going to move the case storage that's here to the new building and 
convert a good portion of this space here to barrel storage, which we 
need more of. Ue are now storing barrels off -site, some down in Napa 
and some at Red Barn. It's kind of inconvenient from the winemaker's 
standpoint to have things out of your control a little bit and not 
close by. After this building is constructed and we are able to move 
the wine down to the new one, we'll start building some barrel 
capacity in here to take care of all the barrel needs that we have. 
It's going to make it quite nice. 



Hicke: Let's move on to the California Wine Commission. Would you start by 
telling me how you got involved? 

Carpy: We are members of the Wine Institute, and I was on the Wine Institute 
board of directors. I don't recall the dates, but we formed a joint 
commission through the marketing order process with the growers. 

Hicke: That was in 1984. 

Carpy: Okay. That lasted about three years. 

Hicke: That was the first time these two groups had gotten together? 

Carpy: Right. It got cumbersome and burdensome, and there was kind of a lot 
of in- fighting. Everybody was trying to protect his own turf and 
everything. That was not renewed. You get an initial three -year 
agreement, and then it renews every five. The winery group decided 
that it would be good to form a winery-only commission and use the 
funding from that to fund the winery programs that were being operated 
at the time, whatever they might be. Quite a bit of money went into 
research that would be sent to the universities and to support certain 
specific programs. 

The commission had to be voted in by all the wineries in the 
state. Anybody who crushed a hundred tons or more was an eligible 
winery to be part of the wine commission. It was voted in. 

Hicke: That made it mandatory for all those wineries to participate? 

Carpy: Yes, everybody that was larger than a hundred tons had to contribute 
through a kind of marketing order arrangement. It soon became 
apparent that- -it started as a fairly small but very vocal group of 
wineries, especially over in the Sonoma area, that really didn't feel 
that the commission was doing them any good. They felt that the funds 

were primarily directed towards things that benefited large wineries 
and there was not much in the way of benefits for the small wineries. 

It finally came down to where a group of them got together and 
sued the state, alleging that the commission wasn't living up to the 
way the thing should be done. It wasn't like there were closed 
meetings or cheating; it was just that it wasn't democratically set up 
so that the little winery had much to say, and the big wineries 
dominated the thing. The big wineries had the ability to get 
themselves on the board just by vote. 

Hicke : So large wineries had more votes than small wineries? It wasn't one 
winery, one vote? 

Carpy: Not to get on the board, as I recall. I don't recall how the board of 
directors was elected. You ended up getting some kind of a vote that 
was weighted on the dollars that you contributed. 

In the course of the suit in court, I guess I was elected the 
chairman of the California Vine Commission. I was the third year; 1 
was the terminator [laughs]. When it came back up to a vote, it 
didn't pass, and that was the end of the wine commission. 1 was on 
the board the whole time it was there, and Phil Uente was the chairman 
before myself. I don't remember who the first one was. 

It was a pretty devastating blow to the financing of a lot of the 
activities of the wine industry, and primarily the Vine Institute, 
because it turned the Vine Institute dues situation back to a 
voluntary one. You didn't have to belong, like you did in the 
commission. If the commission passed, everybody had to put their 
money in according to the dues structure that was available, and it 
was based on the number of gallons that you processed or the tons of 
fruit. You couldn't get out of it. 

But when it was taken away, the Vine Institute had to operate as 
a voluntary grouping. If somebody didn't want to be in it, obviously 
he didn't pay any dues into it, either. It reduced the funds 
available, especially the reliable funds, to the Vine Institute when 
the commission was terminated, and it took a little while for the Vine 
Institute to adjust itself to the new funding that was available. It 
also set back fairly materially the research and development that was 
going into grapes and wine. 

There was an organization called the American Vineyard Foundation 
that was in place. It had been started primarily by Ed [Edmund] 
Mirassou and probably a couple of others . The idea was to form an 
organization that would collect funds and in a sense form a basis for 
evaluating what these funds would be spent on. They had a peer review 
group. People would send in proposed experimentation for 
investigating whatever they had in mind, and this group would arrange 


them in some order of priority and fund those that they felt were the 
most important. 

With the California Wine Commission behind research--! think we 
were funding it at almost $1,000,000 a year. It takes that much, you 
know. With agricultural experimentation, you just don't do much in 
one year; it takes a program of sometimes three, four, or five years 
to follow through on a project. The American Vineyard Foundation 
ended up being on voluntary donations, and it struggled to keep about 
a $500,000 to $600,000 a year program. It was really being funded by 
about 10 percent of the wine industry. 

That's the problem with voluntary things; it's awfully easy to 
get a free ride. You just sit on the sidelines and let the other guys 
do all the work, and then you reap all the benefits that they ever 
get. That's a little bit what has happened with both the American 
Vineyard Foundation and the Wine Institute, although the Wine 
Institute kind of broke up over some other things; the same kind of 
group that didn't like the commission didn't like the Wine Institute 
very much, either. So that's been fractured, and there are two or 
three winery organizations now representing various segments of the 
wine industry. 

Hicke: When you were chair, did you see any way of possibly solving this? 
What do you see for the future? 

Carpy: When there was an objection as to the people on the board and the 

voting, when they didn't like the way it was being done, we formed a 
committee and tried to resolve a system that gave more power to small 
wineries. I don't recall exactly how we did it, but everybody had an 
opportunity to put their viewpoint in, and we tried to accommodate as 
best we could to provide a better solution than what we had. But it 
didn't satisfy a certain group, so it shot the thing down. That was 
the end of the commission, and I don't think that will ever raise its 
head again, at least not until all the people who have been through it 
are gone and a group of new ones think it's a good idea again. It 
Just develops animosities, for some reason or another. There are 
always people who feel they don't get anything out of something like 
that, and maybe they don't. 

It's very difficult for an industry like the wine industry, 
that's really made up of six or seven hundred independent producers. 
Hardly any other industry in the world has that many producers in it. 
To get them together and really unify them is Just pretty tough. 
People have different objectives for their business, and what's good 
for one doesn't seem to be what the other one wants. Then you have 
the big and the little, and it's very difficult to make everybody 
happy. That went by the way. 

Hicke: Was that a period of frustration for you? 

Carpy: Well, yes, because I was very much in favor of trying to keep the 
thing going. At the same time 1 certainly wanted to provide an 
opportunity for the people who were dissatisfied to try and work with 
the people who were trying to make it go, to allow for a more 
favorable political situation for those people who weren't happy, but 
it just didn't work. I think basically they Just didn't want to pay 
the dues , and even if they agreed that a certain amount of money was 
good, was well spent and did them some benefit, they just didn't want 
that mandatory taxation. That's basically what it was, a taxation. 

Even the Wine Institute, after the commission crumbled, went 
through a period of time of doing basically the same thing, trying to 
resolve how small wineries and big wineries could better get along. 
They created sort of a two -system board. Half the board is elected by 
popular vote --one winery, one vote --and the other half is voted in by 
size of winery, in a sense, or according to the dues structure, more 
or less. So the big wineries can appoint themselves on the board 
because they're big, and the other half of the board can do it Just on 
a popular vote system. It certainly has made a better representation 
on the board. 



Changes in N&pa Vallev and the Wine Industry 

Hicke: Let's talk a little bit about some of the changes you've seen in the 
Napa Valley and in the wine industry. 

Carpy: I think I've already expressed a little bit about the physical changes 
from prune and walnuts. When we started as a winery in 1967, we 
joined the Napa Valley Vintners [Association] about 1969 or '70, and I 
think we were about the fifteenth or sixteenth winery. The nucleus 
was Beringer, Martini, Krug, Inglenook, BV, the large Napa Valley Co 
op, and the Christian Brothers. Then Mondavi and Mayacamas came in 
before our time, and Heitz was probably in. I don't think Souverain 
was in. Anyway, it was a pretty small group of wineries. Bob Mondavi 
came in before we did, and we happened to join Just prior to 

In the middle seventies a proliferation of additional wineries 
started. I recall that I was president of the Napa Valley Vintners 
Association. I don't remember the dates particularly, but it was in 
that period of time when the membership went from about twenty- five or 
thirty wineries up to about sixty in relatively short order. We 
changed the rules a little bit on what qualified a member. It used to 
be that you had to be in business, and your label had to be in the 
market before they would entertain you as a member. It was changed to 
when you were big enough to produce. The original concept was to make 
sure that the person was serious about getting into business, and 
then, as time went along, it was pretty obvious that the investment 
made them pretty serious; even if it was a winery of ten thousand or 
five thousand cases, it still was a serious event. We wanted to 
foster the numbers to have a little stronger political appearance in 
the valley so that we could monitor anything that was being proposed 
at the board of supervisors level about the wine industry and have a 
little stronger voice. 

JULY 15, 1990 




Tile Carpy eian, Irani 

left: wile Ann*, ch ildren James, 

Marianne, Charles, 

Catherine and John, and Charles 

Bucking the Trend 
At Freemark Abbey 

As corporations take over Napa Valley, 

grape grower Charles Carpy stands tall for family traditions 

By Per-Henrik 

St. Helena, Calif. 



ihe first thing you notice when 
meeting local boy Charles "Chuck" Carpy 
is his size. At 6 feet 3 inches and 300 
pounds, he is a giant of a man in his com 
munity who stands tall and proud against 
all the hoopla that is making Napa Valley 
more trendy every day. 

The 62-year-old Carpy, who is the 
managing partner of the 36,000 case 
Frecmark Abbey Winery, is a throwback 
to an era when the valley was made- up 
ot farmers like himself These down-to- 
earth folks drove tractors on their ranches 

and wore boots and flannel shirts, but 
they had the savvy to invest in vineyards 
long before the CEOs, MBAs and multi 
millionaires invaded Napa Valley. 

'\XV didn't have any of that corpo 
rate ownership 20 years ago," says Carpy 
about the multinationals that keep gob 
bling up land and wineries in the valley. 
"The Danu i family owned Inglenook 
(now uwned by Grand Met of Britain), 
and the Beringers owned Beringer (mm 

owned by Nestle of Switzerland) It was 
more family -oriented then.' 

But above all, Carpy, a grape grower 
for W years, misses the informality of the 
old days. 'Another change in the industry 
is that now you have all these managers 
at the wineries wearing tics every day 
Fortunately, there are a few of us who art- 
still resistant to that," says Carpy, whose 
open-collar shin reveals a thicket of chest 


JULY 15, 1990 



Abbey wines 

have caught | 

the public's 

eye without 


The cellar at 
Freemark Abbey 
Winery. The 
winery produces 
36,000 cases 
ol wine a year, 
but Carpy 
plans to Increase 
production to 
50,000 in the next 
10 yean 

A farmer at heart, Carpy also belongs 
10 the valley's old-time gentry, with deep 
roots in the community, where he is re 
spected for his integrity and support of 
many benefits and local causes. Moored 
since birth to the Napa Valley and its 
traditions, he grew up in St. Helena, which 
was "a pretty sleepy town back then," he 
recalls nostalgically "I used to know every 
one in St. Helena. Now 1 don't know more 
than a third." 

His French-born grandfather made 
wine in the valley in the late 19th century 
and, until 1893, owned the landmark 
Greystone winery, which was later 
refurbished by the Christian Brothers and 
is now a popular tourist stop in St. Helena. 
Carpy says he spent the happiest days in 
his life going to St. Helena High School 
and still lives in the same St. Helena house 
that he grew up in. "I've never really called 
any other place home," says Carpy of the 
Spanish- styled house, which stands in a 
grove of palm trees near the Bennger and 
Christian Brothers wineries. Of the Carpy 
clan it includes his wife, Anne, (whom 
he married 28 years ago) and their five 
children; his sister Mathilde, a St. Helena 
physician, and her five children he says, 
"We are a family of traditions." 

This heritage helps explain why Carpy 
values traditions over hip trends and why 
he doesn't care about certain outward 
status symbols such as a trim waistline, 
neckties and new cars or trucks. "He 
drives still to this day a I960 four-wheel 
Ford truck," says Carpy's daughter, 
Catherine, 24. She works in sales for 
Freemark Abbey and banters with her 
father when he comes back to the office, 
located at the winery a few miles north 
of St. Helena off Highway 29 "He lives 
by the philosophy 'If it isn't broken, don't 
fix it.' " 

"There is nothing wrong with that 
truck. It is going to be my hearse," quips 
her father. 

She: "It's so rusty and jaded'' 

He: "It's pristine.' 

She: ' 'Et-en tbt other partners have said 
they'd like to get you a neu- truck" 

He: "Cars are just purely utilitarian' 

Carpy brings the same pragmatic ap 
proach to his management of Freemark 
Abbey, where he attempts to steer clear 
of "trends" in the winery's trademark 

Carpy and his partners 
started the winery in 1967 

Chardonnay. It is a fresh, fruity wine 
fermented in stainless steel tanks, not bar 
rels, to achieve the kind of big-style Char 
donnay that's been in vogue among 
several California producers. 

"In Chardonnay, our style is tradi 
tional," says Carpy. Freemark Abbey 
Chardonnay has a track record for im 
proving in the bottle for about five years. 
The current release, '87 Freemark Abbey 
Napa Valley Chardonnay, retails for $15 
a bottle. Until '88, when the winery made 
a small amount of barrel-fermented 
Chardonnay, Freemark Abbey had always 
used only stainless steel fermentation to 
create a well-made, fresh and lean Char 
donnay. "We try to capture the fruit side 
of a wine rather than the complexity that 
happens during barrel fermentation." 

Ic's an approach that has worked well 
for Freemark Abbey since March 1967, 
when Carpy and a handful of partners 
each put down about 5230,000 as start 
up capital for the winery. It produces 
18,000 cases of Chardonnay in addition 
TO its Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
(7,000 cases) and two well-known vine 
yard-designated Cabs, the Bosche (4,000 
cases) and the Sycamore (3,000 cases). 
The winery also makes 2,000 cases of 
Johannisbcrg Riesling and, starting with 

the '89 vintage, 2,000 cases of Merlot. 
Carpy expects the winery will increase 
production from 36,000 cases to 50,000 
cases in the next 10 years. He said the 
winery might have produced more wine 
if he and his partners had not tied up 
their capital and energy in starting Ruth 
erford Hill, Frecmark Abbey's sister 
winery in the Napa Valley. 

"The seven partners arc still going. 
Nobody has died, and nobody has di 
vorced," says Carpy. "We were fortunate 
to start when we did. "In get that kind 
of property today would cost a lot of 
money. Today you have got to be so darn 
wealthy to buy anything and come into 
the valley. And you have to be the Hess 
kind or the Clos Pegase kind and build 
monuments to catch people's attention." 

By contrast, Carpy, his grapes and the 
wines made by Freemark Abbey (helped 
by well-known consultant enologist and 
winery partner Brad Webb) have caught 
the eye of the public without fanfare. "He 
doesn't put on airs," says daughter Cath 
erine. "He is a humble, mUcrt man." 

In 1956, Carpy earned a degree in 
agricultural economics at the University 
of California at Davis. In 1961, Carpy 
and his sister Mathilde sold some income 
property inherited trom their parents to 

raise $80,000 to purchase 115 acres in 
Rutherford east of the Napa River. "1 
guess 1 |ust wanted to be a farmer," says 
Carpy. "I lilcc the outdoors, and 1 like 
growing vines. We always had some vines 
around the house, and I liked to prune 
them as a kid." 

But like much of Napa Valley back 
then, before the wine industry's boom, 
the property the Carpys bought was 
mostly pasture and orchards. "There were 
only 4 acres of vines very poor vines 
and there were lots of oak trees. I was in 
the fine wood business for two years. 1 
cut up a whole lot of oak trees. I did ali 
that work by myself, and I sat in a trac 
tor's seat a lor." 

The Carpy Ranch now has 85 acres 
of vines, including 30 acres of Chardon 
nay, 9 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 
acres of Johannisberg Riesling, 8 acres 
of Merlot and 30 acres of Sauvignon 
Blanc. "It's easier to have different 
varieties so you can pick at different 
times,' says the grower 

The Chardonnay from the Carpy 
Ranch goes into Freemark Abbey's 
regular bottling and, since the '88 vin 
tage, into the new barrel-fermented Char 
donnay. About 600 cases were made of 
this Freemark Carpy Ranch Chardonnay 
1988, which retails for $22 a bottle 

This new Chardonnay represents a 
radical departure in sryle tor Freemark 
Abbey, and Carpy had serious misgivings 
about it. "Why change style so long as 
people are enjoying it' "asks Carpy 
"F.veryone had to convince me that we 
had to change. We have been very tradi 
tional in our style ol winemakin^. and 
I'd rather sec consumers come and go 
than keep changing styles." 

Tlie new wine tomes with .1 ja/zrtl- 
up label ,nnl in A new Burundi an. 
"dead-leal." yellowish bottle The winery's 
traditional Chardonnay comes in a taller. 
green buttle, hut will also IK* sold in the 
new bottle starting with the '88 vintage 

Tin- '87 regular Chardonnay is taut 
and lean, fresh and fruity, with (mused 
aromas and flavors of honmlcw melon, 
citrus, apple and hinrs ot honey It's a 
wine with the backbone to improve in 
the bottle tor at least five yc.irv 

The 88 Carpy Ramh Clurdonnay 
is more accessible mm It's a more lus 
cious wine, rounder and smoother than 
the regular Chardonnay. hut it lacks the 
refreshing fruitmcss and audit, backbone* 
of the regular '87 Chardonnay. G 


In the days when we first started, the wine industry, through the 
Napa Valley Vintners, really had a marvelous rapport with the [county] 
board [of supervisors]. The board members were more agriculturally 
oriented people , and the board of supervisors at that time was 
interested in fostering the image of Napa Valley wines and were 
encouraging tourism and the whole thing to build the visibility of 
Napa Valley as a fine-wine producing area. Of course, that has 
changed materially with the growth of the valley with a lot of non- 
agriculture, semi-retired type people who sort of want to close the 
doors --"I'm aboard now; let's pull up the gangplank" type of attitude. 
The wine industry, and certainly the tourism side of the wine 
industry, has taken on a less welcome aspect than it used to have. It 
was very welcome twenty years ago, and now there is a reasonably large 
segment of the valley that would like to see them all go away so that 
the highways weren't obstructed and whatever else they don't like 
about them . 

Now they say we have two hundred wineries in the valley- -when I 
say the valley, I mean Napa County. The appellation called Napa 
Valley includes almost the entire county except for Lake Berryessa and 
a little northeast corner of the county where there are no vineyards. 
The changes agriculturally have been profound. There's no question 
that the prosperity is substantially greater than it was when most of 
the residents, at least the north of Napa group, were primarily 
farmers and made their living off a chunk of land they owned. That 
has really changed dramatically. There really are not too many left 
of what I would call true farmers who are earning their living. They 
may earn their living in the wine industry as winery owners, but they 
aren't out there sitting on tractors. In that sense, I guess I'm not 
really, either. 

There's a certain special breed of people who turn out to be 
fanners, as far as I'm concerned. I understand them and am very 
comfortable with that community, and I'm less comfortable with the 
Madison Avenue group that kind of pervades Napa Valley now, and 
retirees. I really resent the attitude of, "I'm here. What you made 
and what you did, I'm here to preserve and make sure you don't screw 
it up." Especially I don't like the underlying attitude that nothing 
should change. If you don't have change, you just aren't alive. The 
community is going to die with an "absolutely no change" kind of 
attitude. Nothing new ever happens, and everybody has to go someplace 
else to earn a living. There are no jobs left. Nothing is growing, 
and nothing is happening, and I really think people who propose no 
change of anything are doing a great disservice to a community. 

So there has been a large change. It's more prosperous now. 
When I was a kid during the Depression, a lot of my friends had 
chickens in their backyards for sale, they raised rabbits, they raised 
doves. I know one family had a couple of goats that they milked for 
their kids. This was in town. The whole world would blow up if 
somebody proposed to do that nowadays. Times were tough, and people 


had to supplement their incomes any way they could. People probably 
didn't like a chicken yard right next door, but people didn't object. 
They knew it was necessary. From that standpoint, things are a lot 

It's just a changing world, and I'm sure it will continue to 
change; at least 1 hope it will continue to change and grow and get 
new ideas. Like the Culinary Institute of America is coming to St. 
Helena and going to Greystone. I would say that in general that's 
pretty well accepted by the community. 

Hicke: That's going to be right next door to you, right? 

Carpy: Yes. I'm tremendously for it. It's going to be something done with 
that building that otherwise would just otherwise go into decay. 
It'll give something new to people and add forty-five or so jobs to 
the community. New thinking is going to come into town, and some new 
opportunities are going to come into town. I wish something like that 
would happen every five years . 

Future Trends 

Hicke: What do you actually see for the future of the wine business here? 

Carpy: I think there's going to be somewhat of a consolidation of the current 
winery numbers, just due to the market. The very tiny ones will have 
to work very hard to survive. Some of the smaller ones are more or 
less avocations rather than really businesses; a guy wants to do it, 
and what interests him is spending his time doing it. He enjoys maybe 
going out and selling the wine, he likes making it, and whatever else. 
But when he dies, his children don't want anything to do with it, and 
it's got to sell. What that family thinks it's worth and what 
somebody else can afford to pay for it and make a living off of it are 
going to be two different things, and I think a lot of those little 
ones are going to perish. Or they are going to be bought up by 
another winery that will use it as a little jewel -type thing in their 
complex of wines so that they can say, "This is my special winery," 
but they will have the opportunity of using the scale of the total 
company to really operate the winery. Their sales group will just 
have a little more wine to sell. 

I don't know how small it will get; it will probably always be 

over a hundred or so. It's kind of hard for me to envision that two 

hundred wineries will continue to be around here as independent 

Hicke: Is phylloxera going to hasten this a little bit? 


Carpy: I know of one winery whose decision to sell was based almost entirely 
on the problem of phylloxera and the cost of replanting their 
vineyard. They just said it was more than they could handle 
financially. 1 think that's going to be true of others as the 
phylloxera really hits them. Most of the valley was planted on 
A x R #1 back in the days when we were planting. It wasn't until 
about '85 or '86 or '87 where the alternate rootstocks were available 
in any quantity and people were starting to look at using them. 


Carpy: I don't know what numbers will be supported eventually, but I think 
there will be a reduction of the number of wineries. 

Comnrunitv Activities 

Hicke : I want to ask you about a couple of things that you have done . You 
were on the board of directors of the Napa Valley Wine Library. 

Carpy: Yes, I was on that for a while. It was started by a fellow by the 

name of Frank Gould and another fellow by the name of Jim Beard (the 
same name as the famous chef) , who was a local printer in town. He 
was the secretary of the Napa Valley Vintners for many, many years. 
They decided to try and create a wine library section to the local 
library in town. They formed a group with Louis Martini, five or six 
people, and every year they would have a wine tasting. It was a 
membership thing, but they'd have an event a year where the wineries 
would bring whatever variety of wine were being tasted. It might be 
Cabernet, so all the wineries would bring Cabernet, and the membership 
could come and taste all the local wineries' Cabernets. 

It grew into having a wine course that Jim Beard more or less 
ran. It was a weekend course, and sometimes they'd offer it a couple 
of times in a year. They usually had it over in a little building 
called Lodi Farm Center, right over here, which was a little, old, 
schoolhouse- type building that was available. The various winemakers 
were the faculty, and they'd come in and talk about wine. Like Jack 
Davies would come in and talk about champagne -making, and others would 
talk about red wine or white wine or sherry or ports or muscatels. 
Generally, people who came and took the course would become a member. 
It cost about ten dollars a year to be a member; now it's about 
twenty . 

The membership Just kept growing so that when the St. Helena 
library decided to build a new structure, because the one they were in 
was getting too small, the wine library created a section of the 
library for itself; they provided some funding to add enough to house 
the wine library section as kind of an independent little side, 

although the books really belonged to the regular library. That was 
accomplished, and in the course of each year additional books would be 
purchased in the wine library section- -some few rare, older books, but 
mostly contemporary things that are coming out. It was to be, and is, 
a resource-type library with a lot of information. I don't know how 
many books they have now, but it's a good number. The University at 
Davis probably has the best wine library. 

Hicke: But it's not as accessible. 

Carpy: Well, you can get books back and forth through the library system, and 
it works pretty well. 

Hicke: It's nice to go in the wine library and browse. I was in there the 
other day, and people were reading the magazines. It looked like 
there was a wonderful selection of books. 

Carpy: Yes, there's a pretty good list. 

I don't know how long I was on the board, probably six or eight 
years. I think the purpose is still being carried on. They 
commissioned a book on the history of Napa Valley winemaking. I think 
it's being written by a guy named Sullivan, down the Peninsula. He's 
kind of a wine -book authority. The wine tasting used to be in 
somebody's garden in a home, but now it goes down to the Silverado 
Country Club, and they have a wonderful tasting place under a big 
grove of oak trees . 

Hicke: It's a big event. 

Carpy: Yes, I'd say a thousand people easily come there. There are maybe 
fifty or sixty wineries or more offering it. You can't taste 
everything, but it accommodates the crowd; you don't really feel 
uncomfortable from the numbers. Well, they kind of drift in and out, 
but there's plenty of space. 

Hicke: What is Vintage Hall? You were on the board of that. 

Carpy: Vintage Hall is another operation that I got involved in. Its primary 
purpose was to preserve the old St. Helena High School stone building 
that has been condemned as a building that can be used for a school . 
It still can be occupied, but it can't be used to house school 
children and have classes. I don't even know when we started that, 
back about fifteen or so years ago. It has slowly evolved into a 
museum. The idea was that we could preserve the building by putting a 
museum kind of operation in it. 

Then the museum has indicated that the building really isn't 
designed to do museum- type work, so now that's progressed to the point 
where they are going to build a building down on the veteran's home 
property and really have a nice Napa County museum. It still remains 


to be seen what will happen to the old high school building. 
Hopefully it will be preserved through sone kind of use. My current 
hope is that maybe the city administration could use it as a city 
hall. There are rumblings around that the city hall in St. Helena is 
not adequate any longer; they need to expand it some way or another. 
Instead of buying some land and building a building, if they could 
move it to the high school and put the money into renovation- -we 're 
talking about at least a million bucks to bring the building up. The 
roof needs a tremendous amount of repair, but it's such a beautiful 
old stone building that you'd hate to see it torn down. 

Hicke: Did you actually attend classes there? 

Carpy: Yes, that's where I went to high school. That was the building that 

housed all the classes. It's kind of a white stone, a different stone 
than the winery's. I don't know where the stone came from, because 
it's not the typical brownish stone; it's grayish white. The interior 
is that old, patterned metal- -kind of floral, with swirlies tapped 
into the metal, and then the metal is tacked to the walls. It's kind 
of a historical building from that standpoint. It's a good, 
comfortable building. It just needs some repair in order to preserve 
it. But it needs a use; that's the thing that really preserves 
anything. I hope somehow or another something will come along that 
would put it to use. It's being used now; the Red Cross has an office 
there . But the city could use it as an administrative center and put 
some money into it. They couldn't buy a piece of land and build a 
building that they would want for anything less than a million dollars 
anyway . 

Back about ten years ago, when the schools had all of the 
problems with financing and the state was cutting back, we formed a 
group here in town to try and raise some extra funds for the school to 
use to get them through this period of time. We were fairly 
successful in raising a reasonable amount of money to help out. It 
turned into the St. Helena Public School Foundation, and it's still 
going on, although I'm no longer on the board. It supports programs. 
Teachers turn in suggestions to the board for funding for projects 
that they feel will amplify their instruction in any way. 

Some of the things that have happened- -like a writing program was 
instituted where a group of professional writers would come in and 
talk about writing to the students, and they get the students to write 
things and help them develop the skills of writing and styles of 
writing. One of them was to support a field trip. Sometimes it buys 
pieces of equipment that can help do things. Quite a bit of the 
computer program was instituted through that. It's being carried on 
by some wonderfully dedicated people . Mrs . Lois Swanson in town is 
Just a dynamo in this whole thing as far as making it a vital 

Hicke : That sounds really worthwhile . 


Carpy: It really has turned out well, and I think the schools really 

appreciate it because it's available at all levels- -from elementary 
school to junior high school, which is sixth, seventh, and eighth 
grades, and the four-year high school. The teachers kind of caught 
fire, because the foundation is willing to fund things if they're 
pretty well thought through. Sometimes it's four or five thousand 
dollars' worth of something, and sometimes it's only a couple hundred 
dollars' worth of things that the school doesn't have the resources 
for to give the teachers. They're outside the restrictions that 
sometimes schools place on the teacher or on the funding, so we can do 
things easier. 

1 think that's one thing about the conmunity that maybe was 
always here but I wasn't quite aware of. The community of St. Helena 
really has a very public-spirited group of people. Many of the people 
who have come here have been very instrumental in making these things 
work, like the wine library, Vintage Hall, the schools foundation, the 
Red Cross. The community is really a strong- spirited group. For 
example, a couple of years ago a group of young parents got together 
and decided that the elementary school needed some playground things. 
They ended up getting it all designed, and something like four hundred 
volunteers came down and built the whole damned thing in the course of 
five or six weekends. They had to raise some money to buy materials, 
but it was all put together by volunteers. Some local carpenters and 
contractors came down and helped. It's a fact of life now, and it's 
really great. 

So from that standpoint, this community is, I think, pretty 
exceptional . 

Hicke: It's a nice place to live. 

Carpy: Yes, it really is, from that standpoint. There are a lot of good 
neighbors in this town. 

Hicke: I read someplace that you like bird watching. 

Carpy: Yes, that's an occupation that I took up about fifteen years ago 

through some friends who invited me to go along on what they call an 
offshore, which just means taking a boat out ten or fifteen miles 
offshore. There are pelagic birds, which are birds that live on the 
sea and only come to land to breed and raise some young, and then they 
go back and live on the water- -like albatrosses and shearwaters and a 
number of other birds. I went out on this boat with them, and I 
really enjoyed it. I met some of their friends and acquaintances who 
were bird watchers. 

Rich Bertoli was a pilot with Pan Am [Pan-American Airways] and 
has eyes like an eagle. John O'Connell was an older friend, probably, 
and works over at Krug. We have added a couple of other guys who come 
along with us, and we plan little trips for ourselves. Sometimes we 


Join other people and go on something. In the first part of April we 
have what we call a "big day," and we see how many species we can 
identify all in one day. We start usually over at Grizzly Island, 
which is over by Fairfield, and end up in Bodega Bay. We see how many 
birds we can spot on our way. I think 126 has been our best score, 
which we did last year. We'll be doing it again this year. 

We have what we call the Christmas count that happens anywhere 
from something like the tenth of December to the middle of January. 
These censuses are taken all throughout North America- -includes Canada 
and Alaska- -and they have areas that they have designated that are 
fifteen miles in radius, so you go back and count those every year. 
Our little bunch has one section that we count, and we do it every New 
Year's Day. We usually end up seeing about 50 or 60 species. Well, I 
don't think we ever hit sixty just by ourselves, but the whole group 
inside that radius usually find about 140 species. Then they estimate 
the numbers of birds that you see of each species that you see. We 
always see a couple of bald eagles or a couple of golden eagles , and 
then starlings you might see in the thousands. Then you're really 
kind of guessing. Sometimes there are a lot of robins in the area, 
and sometimes there are not. 

It's kind of fun. It's a wonderful pursuit, because all you need 
is a pair of binoculars and a book. When I go on wine trips, I can 
just walk down to a park and look around to see what I can see. You 
can spend anywhere from twenty minutes to half a day. It's so easy to 
do, and it's a nice diversion. It's really enjoyable. My wife enjoys 
it. She likes photographing the birds, and she's pretty good. I have 
no patience with photography because it takes too damned long. I'd 
rather sit and watch. 

We went to Australia for our twenty- fifth wedding anniversary, 
and we spent almost two months there. We saw 260- some thing species, 
and she got a lot of good pictures. That's what we enjoyed about it, 
and that was our primary pursuit. We didn't spend much time in 
cities; we were out in the country almost all the time. 

You meet some really wonderful people. It's just another way of 
meeting people, I guess, but it certainly does bring you into contact 
with people from all over. A lady we met in Australia who enjoyed 
bird watching came through here a couple of years after we met her. 
She was on her way to Churchill in Canada, and she stopped and saw us 
for a couple of days. We went bird watching with her locally. Things 
like that. It's fun. 

I've got to say that I finally have seen five hundred birds in 
North America. That's not up with the big guys, but six hundred is 
probably attainable if you really work at it and travel a little bit. 
When you get over six hundred, you really have to work. We've taken 
bird trips to Arizona, Texas, Florida; those are three really good 


areas to go to. We've done a little bird watching down on the Baja 
Peninsula in Mexico. It's been fun. 

Hicke : Well, you've been very informative about your winery and the industry, 
and I thank you very much. 

Carpy: It's so disjointed that I hope we can put it back in a little better 
chronology than it came out verbally. 

Hicke: That's the way with oral history. It's not like a written document 
that you plan out and outline. It just works out better this way. 
Thank you. 

Transcribed by Judy Smith 


TAPE GUIDE --Charles Carpy 

Interview 1: March 4, 1993 

Tape 1, Side A 1 

Tape 1, Side B 8 

Tape 2, Side A 17 

Tape 2, Side B 25 

Tape 3, Side A 32 
Tape 3, Side B not recorded 

Interview 2: March 5, 1993 

Tape 4, Side A 38 

Tape 4, Side B 44 

Tape 5, Side A 53 

INDEX- -Charles Carpy 


Ahern, Albert, 22 
Ahern, Michael, 22 
American Vineyard Foundation, 

Beard, Jim, 53 

Beringer Brothers winery, 5-6 

birdwatching, 56-58 

botrytis, 27 

Bourn, William, 2 

Bryan, John, 20, 26, 28, 31 

California Wine Association, 2 
California Wine Commission, 46- 


Carpy, Albert C. (father), 3-4 
Carpy, Anne Prentiss (Mrs. 

Charles), 18 
Carpy, Catherine (daughter), 

33, 35-37 
Carpy, Charles (grandfather), 

Carpy, Mathilde Canton 

(grandmother) , 3 
Carpy Ranch vineyard (also, 
Carpy-Conolly vineyard), 12-18, 

16-18, 34 
Conolly, Mathilde Carpy 

(sister), 4, 16 
cooperage, 38-40 

Demptos (barrel -makers ), 38-39 
diseases, plant, 7-8, 30 (see 
also phylloxera) 

Edwards, Ted, 25, 27, 34, 40 
equipment, 38-40 

Forni, Antonio, 21-2 
Fortin, Dumas (grandfather), 3 
Freemark Abbey winery, 19-45; 
building restoration, 20-21; 
history, 21-23; partnership, 
19-20, 32-33; winemakers , 25; 

see also marketing, equipment 
frost protection sprinkler 
system, 13-15 

Grayson, Vince, 39 
Greystone Cellars, 2 

Haas, Robert, 35 

Heggie, Dick, 19, 23, 24, 28-29 

Holmes, Bob, 45 

Hurd's Candles, 21, 23 

Jaeger, Bill, 20, 28-29, 31, 
39, 43 

Langbehn, Larry, 25 
Luper, Jerry, 25, 27 
Lutley, Winifred, 12, 24 

marketing, 34-37 
Maytag, Fritz, 26, 29 
Mondavi, Robert, 13, 19, 24, 
25, 29, 43, 50 

Napa Valley, changes in, 14, 
19, 20, 29, 42, 50-53 

Napa Valley Co-op, 24 

Napa Valley Vintners 
Association, 50-51 

Napa Valley Wine Library, 53-54 

Pacific Winery, 2 
Paterno Imports, 35-37 
phylloxera, 7-8, 30-32, 52-53 
Pillsbury company, 40-41, 43 
Prohibition, 22 
protection sprinkler system, 

Rainbird Sprinkler (company) , 

Red Barn Ranch (Cole Ranch) , 

30, 40-43, 45 
Richmond, Mike. 27, 35 

rootstocks, 16-17, 30-31 


Rutherford Hill winery, 25, 35- 
36, 40-43 

Seiberlich, Gordon Simon, 19 

Simpson, Rich, 25 

St. Helena Public School 

Foundation, 55-56 
Steltzner, Dick, 25 
Swanson, Lois, 55 

trellising and spacing, 17 
Tychson, Josephine, 21 

Uncle Sam Winery, 2 

Valley Foundry, 38 
Vintage Hall, 54-55 
viticulture, 7-8, 12-18, 29-32 

Walker, Becky, 35 
Warren, Jim, 19, 23, 24, 28, 32 
Webb, Brad, 20. 25, 29, 33, 40 
Williams, Bert, 35 
Wine Institute, 46-49 
Wine Service Co-op, 44-45 
Wood, Laurie, 13-14, 16, 24, 
28-29, 31, 32, 41 

Gevurztraminer , 43 
Merlot, 27, 43 
Petite Sirah, 26, 29, 33 
Pinot Noir. 26, 33, 43 
Riesling, 26-28 
Sauvignon Blanc , 43 
Zinfandel Port, 32 


Cabernet Franc, 31 
Cabernet Sauvignon, 16 
Chardonnay, 16, 31 
Camay, 29 
Merlot, 31 
Pinot noir, 16 
Riesling, 16, 27-28 


Cabernet Sauvignon, 26-28, 33, 


Chardonnay, 26-28, 33, 40, 43 
Edelwein Gold, 27, 28 
Camay Rose, 29 

Carole E. Hicke 

B.A. , University of Iowa; economics 

M.A. , San Francisco State University; U.S. history with emphasis on the 
American West; thesis: "James Rolph, Mayor of San Francisco." 

Interviewer/editor/writer, 1978-present , for business and law firm 
histories, specializing in oral history techniques. Independently 

Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, 
Berkeley, 1985 to present, specializing in California legal, political, and 
business histories. 

Author : Heller. Ehrman. White & McAuliffe: A Century of Service to Clients 
and Community. 1991. 

Editor (1980-1985) newsletters of two professional historical associations: 
Western Association of Women Historians and Coordinating Committee for 
Women in the Historical Profession. 

Visiting lecturer, San Francisco State University in U.S. history, history 
of California, history of Hawaii, legal oral history.